If you coordinate TypeWell services for a school or organization, you are likely tasked with informing teachers, executives, keynote speakers, etc. that there will be a TypeWell transcriber present in their classes or meetings. You might convey this in person, by email, by phone, etc.
Here are some real-world examples from letters sent by university service coordinators to professors at the start of each school term. You are welcome to copy and/or adapt these messages to your specific situation.
Timing is everything.
"In the past, we’ve sent an email with an information sheet attached. This semester we are beginning to have the transcribers contact the professors the week before classes begin and meet with them in person to discuss the service and its role in the classroom."
"I send 'tips' to instructors along with the Accommodation Letter, by email, and I request that they reply to confirm receipt. I follow up with the professors who don't reply."
Catch the professor or speaker's attention:
Tips for Working With a TypeWell Transcriber
There’s a TypeWell Transcriber in my class. Now what do I do?
Faculty Information on Real-Time Transcribing
Explain the situation:
This is to inform you that a student who is deaf, (student full name), has enrolled in your (course number, section number) course for the (school term) semester. (Student first name) (has a cochlear implant, which allows him to hear some speech and he is also able to read lips one-on-one and in small group settings) (has a severe hearing impairment which makes access to orally presented information from the instructor and fellow students very difficult). To ensure (student first name) has full access to all of the information delivered orally in class, we will be using real-time transcription in the classroom.
Some Deaf or Hard-of-Hearing students, low-vision students or students with an Auditory Processing Disorder require speech-to-text services to facilitate communication in the classroom.
Real-time transcribing services are provided to students who have a documented disability in order to provide real-time communication access. (Department) has the responsibility to provide access for all regular academic programs and essential student services. These include classes, meetings with instructors and advisors, instructor-led study sessions, group project meetings, etc.
There will be a transcriber in your class who will be providing communication access for one or more of your students who are Deaf or hard-of-hearing. Working with a transcriber who is using speech-to-text software such as TypeWell may be unfamiliar to many people. It can be helpful to know what to expect from this new situation, so the interaction can be smooth and comfortable. Here are a few things you should know...
Explain what the transcriber does:
Real-time transcribing is a method of using specialized software to convert spoken language into visual text onto a laptop computer screen. Students read the transcription from a second computer.
The transcriber is using a speed typing system to record in rich detail what you and others say. The transcript is not word-for-word. It is meaning-for-meaning. That is, all the major points are captured using the same level of vocabulary and grammar as spoken, but possibly with different phrasing.
What you say during class will be transcribed in order to provide real-time communication access to the student who is Deaf or hard-of-hearing. You can ask the transcriber about omitting something from the after-class transcript, but nothing said in class can be omitted from the real-time access being provided for the student.
Lecture material, class comments and questions, and social interactions among the student’s peers are all transcribed. The transcriber captures both the meaning and style of what is said.
The text from the transcriber is not “word-for word”. The transcriber has been trained to condense information in order to keep up with the pace of the lecture, while retaining all essential points of the material.
The transcriber will arrange the situation so that it is conducive for transcribing in class. The transcriber will know where to place themselves so they can hear the class lecture, as well as provide transmission to the Deaf or hard-of-hearing student(s). The transcriber may offer suggestions regarding lighting, so that the student(s) and the transcriber can see their laptops clearly.
Team Transcribers: Longer assignments (1 1/2 hours or more) such as workshops, lectures, conferences, training sessions, etc. with continuous transcription needed, will require the use of a team of two transcribers. The teaming allows the transcribers to switch between primary and secondary roles every 15-20 minutes. This helps avoid physical damage to the transcribers, such as carpal tunnel or repetitive motion injury and reduces mental fatigue, which causes degradation of the interpreted message. The teaming transcribers will be able to provide continuous transcription with very little, if any, disruption to the classroom.
Explain that the transcriber may or may not "voice" for the student:
Some students who use transcription services prefer not to use their voices in class. In these cases, the transcriber will voice those students’ questions and comments. Please communicate directly to the student when responding to these questions or comments, not to the transcriber who voiced them.
The use of two linked computers allows the student to type questions and comments to the transcriber during class. The transcriber can then read (“voice”) for the student, if that is the student’s preference. If you find the student’s speech difficult to understand, you are encouraged to request that the student type his/her questions and comments to the transcriber for voicing.
The transcribing process always involves a slight lag time. Therefore, please be aware that if you ask questions, the student using the service will require a few addition seconds in order to respond and/or participate in class discussions.
Explain how the teacher can best support the accommodation:
The Deaf or hard-of-hearing student in your class will look at the computer screen when they need to read what you and other students are saying. The student may or may not watch the computer constantly.
Speak loud and clear so the transcriber can easily hear you.
Repeat or restate what students say. Students’ comments are often hard to hear, and their comments are sometimes disorganized.
Please give the transcriber his/her own copies in advance of handouts, overheads, readings, and vocabulary lists – anything that might help him/her understand and quickly follow the information you will present.
Be mindful of the transcriber’s role in the classroom. Avoid asking the transcriber for opinions or comments regarding content. Transcribers are not to become involved in the situation for which they are transcribing by offering advice or adding or omitting information from the message. Transcribers follow The TypeWell Code of Ethics that requires impartiality and confidentiality with all class-related information.
Provide a short break every hour (if possible). Transcribing is mentally and physically taxing. Do not expect the transcriber to transcribe during these breaks.
The student is responsible for copying the information on overheads or written on the board. The transcriber will type your comments while you are using an overhead or board, but it is impossible for the student to simultaneously copy the information and watch the computer screen. Therefore, it is very helpful to a student who is deaf/hard of hearing to receive copies of overheads used during your lecture in advance.
Explain why the transcriber has laptop computer in class:
Real-time transcribing is a method of using specialized software to convert spoken language into visual text onto a laptop computer screen. Students read the transcription from a second computer or tablet.
The transcriber will need to sit where it is easy to hear you and the students. They will also need to be near a power source for their computer. This position is usually at the front of the class.
The transcriber will begin to set up equipment as soon as he/she arrives at the classroom. If the student is absent, the transcriber will breakdown the equipment and leave with as little distraction as possible.
Explain that captioned media are required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act:
If you are planning to show media materials, inform the transcriber beforehand so arrangements can be made for previewing materials. Use the subtitle option on DVD’s or the closed captioning option. A closed caption decoder is installed on the teaching station. Please contact Media Services if you need directions on caption/subtitle use.
If you plan to show any films or movies, please be sure to request ones that are open- or closed-captioned. DVDs may or may not have closed captions. In the latter case, English subtitles are also effective. Both of these can be turned on through the DVD's main menu. If neither captioning nor subtitles are available on a video you plan to show, please visit with the student and the transcriber(s) so that appropriate arrangements can be made as soon as possible.