The Disability Programs and Resource Center

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Tips for Using Stenocaptioners

What is the role of the stenocaptioner?

A stenocaptioner's role is to facilitate communication for deaf and hard-of-hearing students. Stenocaptioners enter everything that is spoken in the classroom into his/her equipment, which the deaf or hard-of-hearing student can read. Stenocaptioners are to remain neutral and do not share personal opinions or advice. Furthermore, stenocaptioners are obligated to respect confidentiality.

Why use Real-Time Captioning (RTC)?

Some people who are deaf or hard-of-hearing grew up hearing or were educated in the "oral tradition," and therefore do not know sign language. Other communication accommodations, including sign language interpreters or assistive listening devices are not effective for some deaf or hard-of-hearing people. For these individuals, Real-Time Captioning (RTC) may provide an effective adjunct to seeing exactly what is said in the classroom.

Working with a stenocaptioner: Some Tips

  • Before the class starts, it is helpful to meet with the stenocaptioner to explain what will be covered. Provide the stenocaptioner with a copy of the course syllabus and/or other print materials for review and to follow as the class progresses.
  • When setting up at the beginning of the class, the stenocaptioner and the individual using RTC will work with you to figure out the best positioning for each, to ensure effective and comfortable communication.
  • Speak directly to the deaf or hard-of-hearing student, not the stenocaptioner. For example, say "Do you have anything you would like to add?" rather than "Does he/she have anything to add?"
  • Direct eye contact. While direct contact is valued particularly in one-to-one interactions, direct eye contact on the part of the deaf or hard-of-hearing individual is not always possible, as the deaf or hard-of-hearing individual will need to watch the captioning screen.
  • Try to face the class when you speak. Some deaf and hard-of-hearing students prefer to follow a lecture through lipreading and use RTC as a backup when they cannot understand.
  • Speak clearly, in a normal tone, and at a normal pace. If there is a problem with keeping up, the stenocaptioner or the deaf or hard-of-hearing student may ask the speaker to slow down or repeat a word or sentence for clarification.
  • Ensure the deaf or hard-of-hearing student's participation. Remember that the stenocaptioner is a few words behind the speaker. Therefore allow time for the deaf or hard-of-hearing student to obtain all the information and ask questions.
  • When there are audio-visual presentations, allow the deaf or hard-of-hearing student using Real-Time Captioning the time to both follow along with the presentation, as well as to look at what is being displayed visually. If possible, provide "advance copies" of the visual presentation to the deaf or hard-of-hearing student prior to the presentation.
  • Use overheads or handouts. This is especially important when you will be reading extensive passages aloud. Rather than having to watch the captioning screen, the student can read the passages in print. If you cannot provide written materials or cite a page number in the students' text, remember to speak at a normal pace. Most people speed up when they read written materials aloud.
  • Give the deaf or hard-of-hearing student sufficient time to read any written materials before you speak. Deaf and hard-of-hearing students receive their information visually. If you speak while they are reading, they will not be able to watch the captioning screen and read simultaneously.
  • Permit only one person to speak at a time during group discussions. It is difficult for a stenocaptioner to follow several people speaking at once. Ask for a brief pause between speakers to permit the stenocaptioner to finish before the next speaker starts. It can be helpful to ask people to raise their hands and wait to speak after they have been recognized. This allows the deaf or hard-of-hearing student to see who is commenting.

For additional information or further assistance, please contact:

Disability Programs & Resource Center (DPRC)
Tel.: 415/338-2472
E-mail: dhohsrvc@sfsu.edu
Fax: 415/338-1041

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