Communication Services

Communication Services for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Students

I. Introduction

The University of California at Berkeley (UCB) is committed to ensuring that deaf and hard-of-hearing students are able to participate in all of the programs, services and activities offered on this campus and to ensuring that their communication assistance needs are met. The Disabled Students' Program (DSP) is a primary resource available at UCB to help students with their communication assistance needs.

DSP is available to provide assistance to regularly enrolled deaf and hard-of-hearing students so that they may be able to obtain auxiliary services, aids or accommodations to University programs, services and activities. Students should contact their Disability Specialist for assistance as these needs arise.

This Policies and Practices Guide explains the types of auxiliary services, aids and accommodations that DSP makes available to deaf and hard-of-hearing students, and the procedures for obtaining and maintaining those services, aids and accommodations.

Additional information about the role and functions of DSP and how students may utilize DSP's services available on DSP main web page.

II. Communicating with DSP and Your Disability Specialist

Students may schedule appointments with their Disability Specialist either by coming into the office and speaking with the DSP Receptionist, by calling the DSP at 642-0518 (voice) or 642-6376 (TTY) or by e-mail. Office hours are 8:00 a.m.- 5:00 p.m.

III. Eligibility to Receive Communication Services

In order to be eligible to receive Communication Services from DSP, the applicant must be registered as a UC Berkeley student and provide to DSP appropriate documentation of his/her disability.

Registration as a UC Berkeley Student

To be officially registered as a student at Berkeley, a student must meet the following criteria: (1) he/she must be enrolled in at least one course, (2) his/her registration fees must be paid either in full, or if on the Deferred Payment Plan, at least the first installment, and (3) he/she must have no blocks on his/her registration.

Verification of Disability

The student is responsible for obtaining and providing professional documentation of their hearing loss. A physician or other appropriate clinician (i.e., audiologist or audiometrist) shall provide documentation. If the initial documentation is incomplete or does not furnish enough information to verify the student's disability and his/her disability-related need for academic accommodation, the DSP Specialist may require additional documentation.

Assessment of Appropriate Accommodations

Auxiliary services, aids and accommodations vary from student to student and are based on each student's individual assessment, the type of disability and the academic environment. Students with different disabilities may have different academic problems, and sometimes two people with the same disability are affected in diverse ways. Some students may require many accommodations, while other students require few. In determining what type of Communication Services and accommodations are necessary, DSP gives primary consideration to the student's requests.

DSP approves auxiliary services, aids and accommodations for which a student has disability related academic needs. Auxiliary services, aids and accommodations are not intended to give students with disabilities an unfair advantage, but to remove barriers that could prevent students with disabilities from learning and from demonstrating what they have learned.

IV. Available Communication Services

DSP provides Communication Services to enrolled deaf and hard-of-hearing students for: (1) regularly scheduled academic activities (e.g., lectures, seminars, examinations, discussion sections, laboratory/studio sections, and meetings with instructors, teaching assistants and academic advisors; (2) meetings with academic advisors; (3) specially scheduled academic events and activities (e.g. one-time examination review sessions, tutoring sessions, and meetings with faculty and other campus personnel); and (4) extracurricular activities and events. These Communication Services may include:

Sign Language Interpreting and Transliteration

The term "sign language interpreting" is often used to refer to "sign language transliteration" as well as sign language interpretation. Interpreting is the interpretation of spoken English into American Sign Language and American Sign Language into spoken English. Transliterating is the transliteration of spoken English into a manual representation of English, and from a manual representation of English into spoken English. DSP also provides oral interpreting services and signed English.

Real-Time Captioning (RTC)

Real-time captioning is the contemporaneous transcription of spoken English into text onto a computer screen. The stenocaptioner will type words spoken in class on his/her own stenotype machine, and those words will appear simultaneously on the laptop computer screen that is provided the student.

Students who are receiving RTC services have the option of receiving transcripts of real-time captioning. The typed words that the student sees on its computer monitor during class will be printed out and made available to the student. Transcripts are not a substitute for attendance at classes.

Assistive Listening Devices (ALDs):

Some classrooms and auditoriums at UC Berkeley have ALDs that are permanently installed. DSP will loan ALD receivers to hard-of-hearing students on request. They may be checked out for an entire semester. The locations of the classrooms, lecture halls and other facilities that have permanently installed ALDs are posted on the DSP website, under the heading " Campus ALD Locations."

Portable Assistive Listening Device:

Portable ALDs are available for loan to hard-of-hearing students for use in campus locations that do not have a permanently installed ALD, on an as needed basis. These portable ALDs may be checked out for an entire semester.

Notetaking Services

Notetaking includes recording the main points of what is stated, highlighting important main topics or themes that are emphasized by the instructor, defining new or difficult vocabulary, and organizing the material to best present the class information. Notes are not a word-for-word record of what happens in class. Notetaking services are not a substitute for attending classes. There are three options for note-taking services.

  1. ASUC Lecture Notes Online: a note-taking service that provides lecture notes for professor-approved courses. Eligible DSP students receive a ASUCLNO subscription voucher from DSP.

  2. In-class notetaker (paid): our experience has shown that most students prefer selecting a notetaker from among their classmates. The DSP photocopy machine is available for the photocopying of lecture notes for eligible DSP students.

  3. In class notetaker (volunteer): some note-takers prefer not to be paid and want to provide their notes on a volunteer basis. The DSP photocopy machine is available for the photocopying of lecture notes for eligible DSP students.

For in-class notetakers, students have the option of requesting that DSP secure a note taker when they sign up for notetaking services. Students who are having any problems or difficulty are encouraged to contact the DSP Notetaking Consultant. Upon request of the student, DSP will assist the student to secure the services of an alternative notetaker, if a previously retained notetaker’s notes are unsatisfactory.

Notetaking service procedures also are described in DSP’s Notetaking Manual, copies of which are available at DSP.

Letters to Instructors and Professors Notifying Them of Students' Accommodation Needs

With the permission of the student, DSP will send to the professors and instructors of classes in which the student is enrolled a letter notifying him/her that a deaf or hard-of-hearing student is in the class and of the student's accommodation needs. Instructors and professors are reminded to speak clearly and concisely. Where charts and technical data do not lend themselves to interpreting, captioning and/or accurate note-taking, instructors and professors will provide to the deaf or hard-of-hearing student printed copies of such charts and data. The closed and open captioning needs of the student also are identified in these letters.

DSP, on its web page, also provides information to professors and instructors on “Teaching Students with Disabilities.” This information includes specific instructions and recommendations on how to accommodate the needs of deaf and hard-of-hearing students (e.g., speaking clearly, and facing students and interpreters and captioners when speaking). At the request of the student, DSP will include reference to this information in the accommodation letters sent to the student’s professors and instructors.

Back-up Services and Accommodations

If a previously scheduled sign language interpreter or captioner cannot show up for his/her assignment (e.g., calls in sick), DSP will use its best efforts to arrange for a substitute Communication Service provider to cover the assignment. DSP will first attempt to secure the services of the same type of Communications Service provider (interpreter or captioner) from among its in-staff interpreters and captioners. If none is available, DSP will attempt to secure the services of a substitute Communications Service provider from outside agencies. As an additional back-up measure, if the same type of Communication Service normally assigned is not available either through DSP’s staff or through outside agencies, DSP will attempt to secure the services of an alternative type of service provider. For example, if a substitute interpreter is not available, DSP will attempt to arrange for RTC services. In this circumstance, DSP will again look first to its staff captioners, and if none is available, will turn to outside agencies.

DSP also will provide a hand-held tape recorder for use in class to any deaf or hard-of-hearing student who requests one. In the rare instance in which no such alternative Communication Services providers are available for a particular assignment, DSP will notify the student via e-mail and, as a back-up measure, DSP will transcribe a tape-recorded lecture or other class session for the student within two business days, if possible, but in any event, no longer than three business days. DSP has tape recorders that students may check out for the entire semester. If a student has not checked out a tape recorder, in the rare case in which an alternative Communications Service provider is not available, DSP will bring a tape recorder to class for the student to use as promptly as possible, and ensure that the tape recorder is functioning and recording the lecture. SDC will demonstrate how to use hand-held tape recorders to any students who check them out and/or use them on an emergency basis.

Another “back-up” service available to hard-of-hearing students are the ALDs (in-class and portable) described above.

V. Requesting Communication Services And Accommodations For Regularly Scheduled Classes And Other Academic Activities

Students who require Communication Services and/or accommodations are encouraged to register in advance for their classes through Tele-BEARS during their priority enrollment period(s) so that DSP has adequate lead-time to secure effective services. Late requests increase the risk that the provision of services will be delayed, or in rare cases, that the DSP may be unable to secure services.

A. Before Classes Begin

Requests for Communications Services may be made on-line with the use of the DSP's main web page, or by filling out an Auxiliary Service Request form and turning it in to the DSP.

Please note that if you add a class after you enter your initial request on-line or in writing, you will need to notify the DSP promptly. The DSP will contact the student after it has received his/her Auxiliary Service Request form to confirm that it has been received. It also will contact the student if there is a problem with filling the student's request.

To make requests online, go to the DSP main web page and click the heading "DSP Student Account." Then click the "Request Letters and Auxiliary Services" subheading. The web page indicates what course-related information will be required to secure communication services either on-line or by printed form.

It is the student's responsibility when requesting communications services to ensure that all information provided is accurate and complete. This includes: course number; course title; indication of lecture, discussion, or lab; days and times the class meets; room number; and the professor's name, if available. A request for interpreting or RTC services should specify each class for which that communication service is requested. Requests for registration accommodations for the following semester, if needed, should also be made on this form.

All new students who request communications services should meet with the Coordinator of Auxiliary Services at the beginning of the new term to verify schedules and accommodations, review policies and procedures, and receive other guidance and information.

B. Adding Classes

Students wishing to add a class are requested to follow the procedures specified for submitting Special Requests. (See Section V, below).

C. Notification of Changes

Students are expected to notify the DSP of any changes in scheduled events for which sign language interpreting or real-time captioning services have been arranged. In particular, to ensure that valuable Communication Service resources are not wasted, we request that you notify the DSP of a cancellation of service at least 24 hours in advance. For example, if a student knows that he/she will be missing class for which an interpreter or captioner has been scheduled, he/she should notify the DSP before the day the class is scheduled that he/she will be absent from class so that the assigned service should be canceled.

We acknowledge that it may not always be possible to give the DSP 24 hours' advance notice of an anticipated absence. When a student does not attend a class or other event for which interpreting or captioning services have been scheduled, and has not cancelled that service before the class or event is held, we request that you notify the DSP afterwards to confirm that you are still in the class and wish that Communication Service to continue.

Text Pagers

To promote students' ready communication with DSP, DSP will loan a text pager to any regularly enrolled deaf or hard-of-hearing student who is utilizing interpreting or real time captioning services.

The use of text pagers is intended for communicating time-sensitive information to DSP. For example:

  • To notify DSP that you will be arriving late to class or an event for which Communication Services have been scheduled, if the class or event is scheduled for that same day.

  • To notify DSP of any last minute changes in assignment location.

  • To notify DSP that you will not be attending a class or event for which Communication Services have been scheduled for that same day.

  • To notify DSP that an interpreter or captioner has not appeared at a class or event as scheduled.

You may contact DSP with the text pager at the following:

For interpreting or transliterating services,

For real time captioning services,

D. Lateness Policies

Students who are provided with sign language interpreting, transliteration services and/or real time captioning services are requested to provide at least 24 hours’ notice to the DSP if they anticipate that they will be late for class. If any advance notice of anticipated lateness is received by DSP, the regularly assigned interpreter or captioner will stay at the class for as long as the student has indicated he/she will be late.

We recognize that there may be instances in which, due to unavoidable circumstances, a student may not be able to provide advance notice of being late for class. If no advance notice of tardiness is provided, interpreters and captioners will wait for the student's arrival for 15 minutes after the start of class for a one-hour class, 20 minutes for two hour classes, and 30 minutes for a class that is three hours in duration and longer.

In cases in which the student has failed to provide advance notice of tardiness and does not show up for class within the time outlined above, interpreters and captioners are instructed to return to DSP or to another interpreting or captioning assignment. Students who arrive at class after the interpreter or captioner has left are requested to contact DSP. If the interpreter or captioner has not been reassigned, DSP will instruct the interpreter or captioner to return to the class immediately.

VI. Special Requests For Communication Services And Accommodations

Students who desire Communication Services for academically related activities and events that are not part of their regularly scheduled curricula are requested to notify DSP at least three (3) working days in advance of the event or activity for which the Communication Service is requested. However, the more notice that the student provides the DSP, the better it will be able to arrange for the requested Communications Service. The University recognizes that it is not always possible to provide such advance notice, and the DSP will use its best efforts to arrange for the requested Communication Service regardless of the amount of advance notice it receives. If the particular type of Communications Service requested is not available for a particular event or activity, the DSP will use its best efforts to secure a suitable alternative accommodation. (See: “Back-up Services and Accommodations,” pp. 4-5, above.) For example, if a student requests a sign language interpreter, but none are available from DSP’s staff or from outside agencies, DSP will attempt to secure the services of a real time captioner.

Such notice may be communicated to the DSP through the following means:

  1. filling out a printed One-Time Request Form available on-line at the DSP website;

  2. filling out a One-Time Request Form available at the DSP; and/or

  3. notifying the Auxiliary Service Coordinator in person, by telephone, or by e-mail.

VII. Requesting Communication Services And Accommodations For Extracurricular Events And Activities

It is the policy of DSP, in conjunction with all departments, association and organizations on the UC Berkeley campus, to provide Communications Services for extracurricular activities and events in order to ensure effective communication. The same types of Communication Services available for academically related activities also are available for extra-curricular events and activities.

As with Special Requests for Communication Services for academically related activities (See Section IV, above), students are requested to make their request for these services at least three (3) working days before the schedule extracurricular activity or event. However, the more notice provided by the student, the better the University will be able to arrange for the requested Communication Service or accommodation. Regardless of the amount of notice given, however, the University will use its best efforts to secure the Communication Service requested by the student for the extracurricular event or activity. (See: “Back-up Services and Accommodations,” pp. 4-5, above.) For example, if a student requests a sign language interpreter but none is available for the particular time requested either from DSP’s staff or from outside agencies, DSP will attempt to secure the services of a qualified real-time captioners.

Communication Services for extracurricular activities may be requested through Campus Access Services.

VIII. Closed and Open Captioning

UC Berkeley's practice is to provide closed or open captioning for all videos prepared by the University for student viewing if a deaf or hard of hearing student is enrolled in the class in which the video is to be shown and/or the video is to be shown in more than one class, event or session. In addition, pre-existing videos to be shown to deaf or hard-of-hearing students shall be closed or open captioned. Instructors who have deaf or hard-of-hearing students in their classes shall be given a written notice setting forth these guidelines.