Tyler Junior College Deaf Services

by admin on December 2, 2009

in Education

As Sign Language interpreter new to Tyler, I was pleasantly surprised to find that a small campus like Tyler Junior College (TJC) had such a great community of Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing students, skilled interpreters, and friendly support staff.

The Sign Language interpreters in the Disability Services at TJC are professional, yet approachable. TJC requires all of its interpreters to pass the state certification test, doing its best to ensure quality interpretation suited to each students preferred language of communication (American Sign Language interpretation or English transliteration). Interpreters are required to follow a code of ethics which among other things, requires that they interpret everything audible in the classroom. Interpreters are also trained to be advocates to ensure students and instructors alike are made aware of their rights and the laws which allow equal access to higher education. Interpreters at TJC strive to provide accurate and complete interpretation of classes, club meetings, advisor or instructor meetings, testing, and other college functions. Through mentorship and feedback, and continuing education, TJC’s interpreters constantly work to make the Deaf or Hard-of-Hearing student’s college experience successful.

In addition to a great interpreting staff, TJC offers eligible Deaf and Hard of Hearing students access to other support services as needed: note taker services, one-to-one tutoring, alternative testing, counseling, career planning, and other student rights advocacy. The Support Services staff are well trained and show an awareness of Deaf culture, how to communicate through an interpreter (if they don’t sign themselves), and how to best empower the students to be successful. [ad#large-blog-block]

In general, most of the instructors and faculty at Tyler Junior College welcome Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing students into their classrooms, showing a willingness to comply with requested visual materials, sharing the front of the classroom with an interpreter, communicating directly with the student, and adjusting lectures to accommodate these students. At the beginning of the semester, every teacher who will have a Deaf or Hard-of-Hearing student in class, is given notification, a handbook detailing how to work with Deaf/HoH students, and is made aware of support services staff available to answer questions and supply further tips for making their class more accessible. Also, since interpreters must be carefully scheduled, Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing students may have early registration, which means it’s easier to get a slot in the favorite teacher’s class.

Since the college also offers American Sign Language (ASL) classes and has an Interpreter Training Program (ITP), Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing students will find more peers who are able to communicate in their native language. Some of these ASL students go on to work in TJC’s peer tutoring program, offering one-on-one tutoring in the Deaf or Hard-of-Hearing students native language. Other ASL students join Support Services in other roles. On the whole, having more people around who even know a little bit of ASL, makes TJC a more welcoming community for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing students.

One potential drawback of attending TJC is that Deaf or Hard-of-Hearing students may be asked to have an ITP practicum student sit in on one or more of their classes to first observe, then gradually partner with the more experienced, qualified, mentor interpreter to actually get some interpreting practice. Mentor interpreters and the ITP instructors are usually careful to avoid making Deaf or Hard-of-Hearing students the proverbial “guinea pig,” but the potential for loss of information and error is there. On the flip side, how else will the student interpreters build their skills? Tyler needs more qualified interpreters… Hmmm…I guess we’ll call it taking one for the team.

Overall the staff, faculty, and students at TJC make huge efforts to build a supportive, welcoming community for Deaf and Hard-of-Students to excel, be empowered, and receive a successful higher education.

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