Audit and Assessment of Needs
Four students were recruited to start the course in September 2000, with another eight recruited in 2002. When the students were recruited they were invited to have an assessment of needs through the 'Access Summit Centre' who are funded by the Manchester Universities to assess and implement support for disabled students. Of 4 deaf students 3 took this opportunity and the reports that followed supported and guided me as personal tutor in ensuring the students needs were met in the form of Human Aides to Communication (HACs) and technological assistance.
The learning environment was not audited for access however, this is a part of the evaluation of the project and changes to the learning environment have taken place from student, interpreter and tutor feedback.
The University has not yet undergone an assessment for environmental access for students with disabilities, so no information was available on the availability of loop systems, text phones, video phones, flashing alarms etc. This encouraged me to take a proactive stance and buy in as much technology as required to improve access, however, it is still not perfect. In the clinical placements the students are either in an environment that is visually accessible or if they are in hearing clinical environments they are provided with the technology and human resources for access according to their need.
Technology tends to work once you have negotiated with the student what will be the most useful tool. However, human resources, are much more susceptible to 'Queasiness, Qualms and Question' i.e. they are human and sometimes ring in sick.
With such a shortage of interpreters and note takers this could leave the students unsupported or it means that I may need to communicate for other lecturers. Due to the fact that this curriculum has never been interpreted before, interpreters may have doubts about their ability to interpret the session or the ability of the lecturer / clinician to deliver the session in an accessible way. Only once has an interpreter questioned the ability of the students to fulfil the criteria for the course. Interpreters do change the dynamics of a group and as a lecturer and student this has to be accepted. Interpreters may question aspects of your delivery, offering advice or support that is useful though it can also feel threatening to someone who is new to teaching. However, there are ways of enhancing the experience of all involved so that none of the participants are undermined.
When the 3Qs raise their heads one becomes consumed with this particular support issue and it can feel to the detriment of the core task of providing student nurse education and thus society with qualified nurses both deaf and hearing. To enhance the interpreter's experience of working in an HE setting, be prepared to:
- seek lesson plans from colleagues for the interpreter to prepare;
- address issues about the layout and shape of the room as they arise;
- clarify the payment system;
- encourage the lecturer that teaches in acronyms to provide a glossary of terms;
- advise the lecturer who wants the interpreter to join the students in with group exercises that this is not within their role.
To ensure that these issues are fully addressed we have employed a 'translator' / human aid to communication coordinator. This person will give the students more access, consistency, will organise training for tutors in the use of interpreters, will organise pre-lesson handouts for the interpreters and identify the most suitable technology.
When the 3Qs raise their heads one has to be consumed with this particular support issue and it can feel to the detriment of the core task of providing society with qualified nurses both deaf and hearing. To get around my fear and suffering at the hands of HACs and my need to negotiate with colleagues on a regular basis because of the lack of notes pre-lesson for the interpreter to prepare, the shape of the room, the financial system, the lecturer that teaches in acronyms, the lecturer who wants the interpreter to join the students in with group exercises... we employed a 'translator'. This person will give the students more access, consistency, will organise training for tutors in the use of interpreters, will organise pre-lesson handouts for the interpreters and will identify the most suitable technology.