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Pah! I'm In College . . . Now What?

30 minutes


Hi. Guess what. I'm going to school here this fall.



Yeah, but I'm a little bit nervous. And things seem really different than high school.

I remember when I started school here. I had no idea how to get interpreters and note takers set up for my classes.

Or that by following procedures and rules, interpreters would be in my classes every day.

Really? There's rules?

Interpreters responsibilities are different in college than they were in high school.

And there are some things interpreters can't do in college that they could do in high school.

Wow. Sounds like I have a lot to learn. But my teachers will be aware that I'm in their classes, right?

Not exactly. You really need to meet with your teachers and interpreters yourself to discuss your needs.

I know it seems overwhelming. But the school has lots of people and offices to help you.

Oh, I see. Hey, why don't we all go out for lunch?

That sounds good.

Good idea.


Hello. In programs after high schools, like colleges or Voc-Tech, figuring out how to get what you need can be overwhelming for deaf or hard of hearing students.

You might be wondering how you will get an interpreter, who tells the teachers what you need, and where to go for help. In this video we'll follow Sarah, a deaf student, as she figures out how to get interpreters, and work with teachers during her first term in school. Let's check in with Sarah and see what she does first.

Here's Sarah now. Hi Sarah. Welcome to Disability Services. Come on in.

I understand you'd like to request interpreters for all your classes. Have you registered yet?

No, I haven't. Not yet. I'm waiting until I find out what classes my friends are taking, because I want to take the same ones.

Well, don't wait too long. It's important to come in and fill out the appropriate request form as soon as you have registered for classes. If you wait until the last minute, I can't guarantee you will have interpreters the first day of class.

Oh, I see. So that means I have to register as early as I can and get everything ready, and then come into the office and fill out the request form to get the services in place for the first day of class?


Oh, OK.

I'd like to ask you, how I would go about requesting interpreter services for something that happens outside of class. For example, a club meeting, or a sport practice, or sitting down with my teacher after class. How would I go about getting interpreters for those kinds of things?

Those are great questions. We take care of that as well. You need to come in and fill out the request form for the out of class activities. But you need to do it as soon as possible, with at least two days advance notice so we can get an interpreter in time.

OK. I will do that.

It is important to contact the Office of Disability Services as soon as possible. Disability Services is the place that works with people who use wheelchairs, who are blind, deaf, or who have other disabilities. They provide interpreters, note takers, captioning, et cetera. As soon as you register, make sure that you let the Disability Services Office know what services you will need.

If you want to participate in other activities at school, don't wait until the last minute to request interpreters. Make your requests as early as possible. You know, your experiences here will not be like high school. You will likely be working with many interpreters, not just one.

Together, with a director of disability services, you will decide the right accommodations for you.

Be aware, you might have to provide documentation of your hearing loss to receive services.


The first time you meet the interpreter is important. How you manage the first meeting will be remembered.

There are many things you can do to make the first meeting a successful experience.

For example, discussing signs, vocabulary, and expectations will help the interpreter prepare for your classes. You might think this meeting is not very important. But it will help you both stay prepared for your classes. Let's see how Sarah introduces herself to her interpreter before her first class.

Are you Jo, the interpreter?

Hi. Yes.

Hi. I'm Sarah. Thanks for meeting with me.

Oh, sure. What's up?

Well, I wanted to talk to you about the signs for this class.

I prefer to use ASL and don't use English word order.


When vocabulary is presented, please finger spell the new word. Do that several times, and later we can decide upon a sign to use.

OK. Are there any particular signs you'd like me to use?

I'm not sure yet. Is it OK if I let you know as they come up?

No problem. Just let me know, and I'll use the signs you want.

OK. I'll be sure to do that. Oh, do you mind voicing for me?

That would be fine.

Good. Let's go in and check out the room. I want to find the best place for us to sit.

Good idea.

Sarah let the interpreter know her preferences for signing style, vocabulary, and seating before class.

This is very helpful to the interpreter, and to you.

You get to meet each other and see each other's signing style. Now the interpreter will be aware of your preferences.


After you register for classes, sometimes, but not always, disability services will let your teachers know that a deaf student and interpreter will be in their classes. Still, we urge you to introduce yourself to your teacher. Let's watch Sarah as she meets her teacher for the first time.

Did you have fun? Did you enjoy that? That's the classroom. Is the teacher in there.

Yes. Do you mind coming in with me while I introduce myself?

Sure. Let's go. Good idea.

Hi, Professor Jensen. My name is Sarah.

Hi, Sarah.

And this is the interpreter, Jo.

Hi, Jo.

I wanted to let you know that we're going to be in this history course, and I was wondering, is there a time that you're available and we can sit down and chat a little bit?

Yes. I have office hours from 1:00 to 2:00 on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

OK. I'm thinking Thursday would be great, around 1:00. That'd be perfect. That'll give me a little bit more time to request an interpreter.

Great. I look forward to seeing you. And welcome to class.

Thank you.

Did you notice that Sarah introduced herself and the interpreter to the teacher?

This gives the teacher a chance to ask questions if she wants.

Sarah finds out the teacher's schedule, makes an appointment, and lets the teacher know she will arrange an interpreter.

What do you think they might discuss in this meeting? It is important to discuss the class rules of order, like how having only one person talk at a time really helps the interpreter, and the use of visually accessible media, such as videos with captions and overhead transparencies.

Let the teacher know that giving copies of overheads and handouts to the interpreter and note taker before a class is very helpful. Also, ask the teacher to give you time to view materials before she begins speaking so that you won't miss any lecture.


Now you understand why it is important to meet with Disability Services early to set up your services. But you may not realize it is important to stay in touch with them all through the term as changes come up. You may decide you want to drop or add a class.

If you change your schedule, what should you do? You need to tell Disability Services so that they can reschedule the interpreters and note takers. They will probably have a form to fill out for their records. Each school has its own policies and procedures for how to request and cancel services. Also, suppose you have to miss a class because you are sick, or maybe you just want to skip. Be careful. You must let Disability Services know you aren't going to class. Many offices will stop sending the interpreter to class if you don't show up and don't let them know. Then, when you go to your next class, you would wonder why the interpreter is not there.

It's two weeks into the term. Let's see how Sarah is doing.

I came in to let you know that I'm changing my schedule. I've decided to drop my chemistry class. So what do I need to do to let the interpreters know that they don't have to go to that class any longer?

That's a great question, Sarah. We have a form that you fill out to indicate that you're dropping classes and that you won't need interpreter services anymore for that class. If you receive note taker services as well, you need to indicate you won't need those anymore either. And if you decide to add a class, you just come in and fill out the normal request form. But remember that because it's during the term, it might take us a few days to find an interpreter for that added class.

Oh, OK.

Why do Disability Services Offices set up these policies? Because interpreters at these schools work with many students. Just like you, students are involved in activities and need interpreters outside their regular classes.

If you find out you don't need an interpreter, and you inform Disability Services ahead of time, that interpreter can be placed in another assignment.


By now you've noticed that a student's responsibilities are different in college than in high school.

You've seen that you will request your own services and be responsible for contacting interpreters and teachers. You may not have realized, though, that interpreter responsibilities are also different. Let's watch as Sarah learns about these differences.

So you've decided to drop your chemistry class. How are your other classes going?

They're going OK.

But I'm still confused.

After my English class was over, I asked the interpreter a question. I had missed the homework that the teacher announced. The interpreter told me that I'd have to ask the teacher. Did the interpreter forget? Or can't they tell me? I don't understand what was wrong.

That's a really good question. You know, there are some things interpreters can and can't do. When you were in high school, you had an interpreter or maybe two who followed you all day. The interpreters here work with many different students throughout the day. And in schools after high school and in college, interpreters only come for their assignment. In high school your interpreter would do your assignment, as well as go to the resource center with you, or tutor you in your class. Here interpreters aren't allowed to do that. They're not trained to be tutors.

Oh, I see. I understand. That means it's my responsibility. I can't depend on the interpreter.

That's right. The interpreters are there to make sure you have access to information in your classes. But they're not your teacher.

I understand.


It is important to establish clear communication, and keep it going. Do not let communication breakdown. Check in with the interpreter and teacher from time to time. Ask for help if you need it. Be flexible with problems. Talk to the interpreter before you talk to the supervisor. Keep communication open with the interpreter. Agreeing on signs, voicing needs, and vocabulary will help ensure accurate interpreting for you.

Beth and Hank have been through several courses and have learned some valuable lessons over time.

Let's check in with them as they discuss their experiences.

Hey, Beth, looking at my school experiences makes me laugh. I used to think everything was the interpreter's fault. One time I failed a test. I really flunked it. I met with the teacher, and I asked why I failed. The teacher looked it over and asked me if I did the reading. I explained I was busy. I didn't always have the time.

She told me if I studied I'd do better next time.

After that I kept up with all my reading.

I understood the lectures, and I got an A on the next exam.

Now, I know it's my job to do well in my classes.

Oh, yeah. The first time I did a class presentation, I waited until the last minute to write the speech. And the voicing just wasn't in sync with me. I felt awful and got a bad grade. I realized that I need to write the speech early, and copy it for the interpreter. We set up signals to use, if the interpreter needed clarification on something, if she needed me to slow down so she could keep up with me, or when I voiced for myself, how to adjust my volume.

The next time I presented, the interpreting was perfect.

Being prepared meant we both looked good, and I got a good grade.

Yeah. And it was hard to do, but very important to talk to my interpreter and teacher ahead of time about the accommodations I need for evaluations and tests.


School can feel overwhelming. Don't wait and get too far behind before you ask for help.

Schools have many resources and services to help you.

Let's see what suggestions Hank has for Sarah.



How are you?

Lousy. I'm having trouble with my English class. I'm getting so far behind, and I just don't understand.

Oh, that's too bad. Have you thought about getting a tutor?

Oh, well, where do I get one? In high school it was my interpreter. And here in college they can't do that for me.

Well, that's true. But you can get an interpreter to go with you. There is a tutoring center here. There are many resources here.

Well, really, like what?

Wow. There's many. There is student health services, financial aid, writing skills, and academic advising.

Wow. And I can get interpreters for all of these resources?

Sure can. But make sure and request an interpreter in advance.

Great. Thank you. I'm going to go set up an appointment with a tutor right now and request an interpreter for that meeting.

Check with your school about available resources.

And remember, it's your responsibility to request interpreters.


As the end of the term approaches, you should realize that the regular schedule and finals week are very different. It's important to talk with your teachers, interpreters, Disability Services, and any other service providers about your needs during finals week.

Maybe you don't need the note taker during finals. You need to let the note taker know, and cancel that service. Remember to follow Disability Services procedures. After finals, you think you can relax? Oh, no. Remember to register early for classes and request services like interpreters and note takers for the next term. Even if you don't plan on going back to school, you still need to inform Disability Services.

Getting used to a new school isn't as bad as you think. Remember, it's important to contact Disability Services, to register for classes early, and to request interpreters.

The school has procedures. Follow them.

Don't be afraid of the new responsibilities you have now.

Communicate your language preferences to your interpreter.

Meet with your teachers to discuss classroom needs.

Most important, take responsibility for studying. Keep up with assignments, and don't fall behind.

Another thing. Always prepare copies of presentations early for interpreters, and give it to them ahead of time.

If you have problems during the term, don't worry. Schools have many services to help you, like libraries, tutoring centers, and academic advising. If you fall behind, these services can help you catch up.

Don't forget. Participate in activities and have fun.

We hope this video has been helpful.

There's a lot to learn about a new situation. If any questions come up, you should feel free to drop by Disability Services and ask for help.

How do you guarantee a successful school experience? You need a little planning, a lot of organization, and clear communication. Disability services looks forward to working with you, and to cheering you on on your graduation day.


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Follows a deaf student starting college who utilizes disability services to find out how to schedule interpreters and note takers for classes and how to work with teachers. Covers meeting the interpreter, meeting the teacher, and what to ask the teacher. Discusses the responsibilities of the student using an interpreter. Explains how interpreting services in college differ from those in high school. Provides survival tips for students who use an interpreter. Talks about using other school resources: tutoring center, financial aid, and academic advising. Outlines end-of-term responsibilities.

Media Details

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