How to Find the Best Community College for Your Unique Hearing Needs

How to Find the Best Community College for Your Unique Hearing Needs
If you have specific hearing needs, finding a supportive community college campus is critical. Learn about what to look for in a community college and what programs across the nation are providing innovative resources to those with hearing impairments.

Approximately 7 percent of Americans cope with various degrees of hearing loss, according to The New School. While most community colleges offer sign language courses, many students who require hearing assistance need more resources. Students who are hearing impaired often need access to a sign language interpreter for courses and require accommodations for oral or written assignments.

To help hearing-impaired students maximize their academic opportunities, community colleges are working to diversify their hearing services. With new forms of technology, experimental instructional courses, and additional venues for support, students who are hearing impaired can access an incredible cache of tools at a number of community college campuses across the country.

This video offers some strategies for teachers of hearing-impaired students.

What Hearing Support Services Should a Community College Offer?

According to The New School, an institution dedicated to providing classes for hearing impaired students, individuals who require hearing assistance may need a range of tools and support systems. As each individual student, regardless of hearing ability, has his or her own strengths, struggles, and needs, the best community colleges will provide a diverse array of resources for individual guidance. Examples of tools that may benefit hearing-impaired students include:

  • Sign language interpreting services in the classroom
  • Access to class materials and notes in advance so interpreters and/or students can prepare for upcoming lessons
  • Seating accommodations to place students who have a minor ability to hear sounds when near a speaker in appropriate locations
  • Transcription services, including some services which provide real-time speech to written text transcriptions (using voice recognition software or other tools)
  • Films/videos should have closed captioning or separate (hard copy) transcriptions

Community Colleges with Hearing Support Services

While each community college may offer its own unique hearing services, there are a number of outstanding institutions that have gained significant attention. For example, LaGuardia Community College, located in Long Island, New York, has been serving the hearing impaired community since 1975. With its Program for Deaf Adults, students have access to a range of unique courses. As school leaders reveal, the “Continuing Education Program is committed to developing and providing comprehensive programs and services to address the educational needs of Deaf and hard of hearing adults.” Among the many course options, students can enroll to learn more about subjects and skills such as:

  • Academic Skills for Deaf Adults (ASDA)
  • American Sign Language, Levels I to V
  • Baby Fingers Mommy and Me
  • Individualized Instruction, one-on-one instruction in all educational disciplines
  • College Preparation
  • Drivers Education (Learner's Permit)
  • Keyboarding and Telecommunications Skills
  • Computer Skills and Training
  • Computer Maintenance for Non-Technicians

From the college’s diverse offerings, students who are in need of parenting, learning, planning, or even driving training are able to seek accommodating instructional services. Best of all, LaGuardia Community College has an extensive Continuing Education Program for hearing impaired students. With this program, LaGuardia “also provides specialized workshops, develops instructional contract services off-campus, and offers innovative courses upon request of the Deaf community.”

Adding to the opportunities at LaGuardia, students attending Northern Essex Community College (NECC), located in Haverhill, Massachusetts, can also take advantage of special resources. With a comprehensive approach to serving the hearing impaired community, NECC students can work to improve their reading and writing skills while working with the “English Language Cluster.” This “Cluster” helps students prepare for continued education and/or mainstream classes by using intensive developmental tactics. Additionally, with the “Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services,” NECC students can work with a campus guide to make plans for any needed accommodations or tools.

This video offers some insights into Laguardia Community College's Program for Deaf Adults.

Ultimately, while community colleges should certainly have some form of hearing services for students, individuals who are significantly hearing impaired should always meet with a campus advisor prior to enrolling in a sequence of courses. By meeting with an advisor early in one’s program, students can find out details of all potential opportunities for enhanced learning and comprehension support.

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