During this Pandemic, we have seen so many changes happening in such a short space of time.

The most recent being with Schools.  The decision made to reintroduce additional year groups back into primary schools, then that decision overturned due to safety concerns.

Followed by an invitation from the school that our children attend to re-join school.

This one example demonstrates what an ever-changing situation we are all experiencing.

I completely understand that as Universities, you will be currently putting together timetables and plans for the forthcoming academic year, initially delivering the majority of content online, then moving to more face-to-face delivery and various ‘blended shades’ in between.  You will be putting these plans together with a number of contingencies for if the situation changes.

You will definitely need your contingency plans in place, just consider that some of the specific details of these plans  can come at a later date when you have further clarity.

To give some structure around the main considerations for deaf students – we have split the “future” into two phases:

Phase #1: Online

Phase #2: Face-to-Face

This is with the sensible conclusion that these two phases will happen in this order.

Phase #1: Online

This is the now inevitable phase we are in.  Delivering and providing services online, including lectures and seminars.

The things to consider in this phase for deaf students are:

  • Are you just providing live lectures?
  • Using some pre-recorded materials?
  • What communication method are each of the deaf students using?
  • How did things go for them at the beginning of lockdown when there was an immediate shift to online learning?
  • How would it work best for them learning online?
  • Do they need any additional support whilst learning remotely?
  • Any concerns about working in this way?
  • Do they have the appropriate tech and connection speed to stream British Sign Language; without causing pixelation?
  • Are you recording the sessions and having them captioned so deaf students can refer back to the session as a valuable reference?

Getting this online provision to work for deaf students is critical, so this phase we are in now will run successfully if you focus on responding to the questions above.

It can be very tempting to want to start planning in detail for Phase #2: Face-to-Face, but hold off for the moment.

Phase #2: Face-to-Face

One of the key considerations for deaf students is face masks; and no doubt you’ll be keen to get them ordered and organised right now.

But you don’t need to. Hold off for now, whilst these items are still in early development.

Over the next few articles, we’ll be adding more detail to Phase 1.  Considering asking ALL of your lecture materials and content accessible.

And then Phase #2: how and when to choose the most appropriate face masks.

Focus on getting Phase #1 spot on.