In our June 2013 blog, we discussed the use of CART, or Communication Access Realtime Translation, by Deaf or Hard-of-Hearing students in college classrooms. This month, we look at a group of students whose need for CART services might not be immediately apparent: those with cochlear implants.
Many people incorrectly believe that once a Deaf or Hard-of-Hearing student is fitted with a cochlear implant, hearing is restored, and the need for classroom accommodations disappears. This belief may be due to a misunderstanding of the difference between hearing aids and cochlear implants. Hearing aids, which attach to the outer ear, amplify sounds. Cochlear implants, which are surgically implanted under the skin behind the ear, bypass damaged parts of the ear and directly stimulate the auditory nerve. The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders explains how a cochlear implant works:
- A microphone picks up sound from the environment.
- A speech processor arranges sounds gathered from the microphone.
- A transmitter and a receiver/stimulator convert signals from the speech processor into electric impulses.
- An electrode relays these electric impulses to the auditory nerve.
From there, the impulses travel to the brain, which recognizes them as sound. This new hearing, however, is different from biologic hearing and takes time to learn. As the regulatory agency of medical products and procedures, the Food and Drug Administration reminds educators that students need time to adjust to their cochlear implants, and they do so at different rates. On its website, the FDA states, “During the accommodation period, students need language input from all the sources they used before their implants.” These may include sign language interpreters, note-takers, or speech-to-text services such as CART.
It is not necessary for the CART provider to be in the classroom with the student. In this scenario, the classroom instructor wears a wireless microphone during the lecture, and the student’s laptop is connected to the microphone base station. The student and the CART provider connect via SKYPE, and the highly skilled provider uses a stenomachine as well as special software to convert the instructor’s speech to text. This text is then streamed to an Internet browser-based application, giving the student instant access to the lecture content on his or her laptop.
And students are not the only users of cochlear implants who may benefit from CART services. CART is frequently used in business meetings, religious services, and medical evaluations by people using cochlear implants.
If you are a student who uses a cochlear implant and are interested in CART accommodation in the classroom, have your college’s disability services office contact CompuScripts Captioning. If you are a representative of a college disabilities services office and are in need of a CART provider for a student using a cochlear implant, contact CompuScripts Captioning’s president, Deborah Dusseljee, at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 1.888.849.9698.