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Access (Accommodation) Services and Academic Success Services - Students with Disabilities

Roles and Scopes of Access and Academic Success Services for Students with Disabilities

Transcribing and Sign Language Interpreting

When a student who is Deaf or hard of hearing enrolls at the college, they have specific access services that will ensure their access to all information in class. The student may use real time (TypeWell) transcribers or American Sign Language Interpreters.

*Some students do not use services providers but instead have a cochlear implant, may lip read or use a wireless FM (amplification) system that is connected to their hearing aid.

Real Time Transcribers (transcribes what is spoken in class as it is occurring for students who are Deaf or hard of hearing)

  • Provides transcription services for students who are Deaf or hard-of-hearing. Real time transcription is the instant translation of the spoken word into text using a computer. The text produced by the transcriptionist is displayed on the student's computer and the transcriptionist's. The student is provided with an electronic copy of the notes.
  • Accesses instructor-provided materials to prepare by reviewing course outlines or textbooks, and understanding any technical or specialized vocabulary.
  • Ensures students receive meaning-for-meaning transcriptions of lectures and assignments.
  • Acts as a medium for students to participate in classroom discussions through voicing comments and questions as necessary.
  • Professional transcribers produce transcription of speech at an equivalent to 150-200 words per minute using specialized transcription software.
  • Permission to provide electronic copies of notes from the class in alternative formats derives from Section 32. of the Canadian Copyright Act: Persons with Perceptual Disabilities.

Sign Language Interpreters (signs what is spoken in class for students who are Deaf)

  • The role of the American Sign Language (ASL)-English Interpreter is to facilitate communication between people who do not use the same language meaning between Deaf students, their non-deaf peers, and faculty/staff at Camosun.
  • The interpreter interprets everything that is being said in class (ASL to English and English to ASL), including student questions, comments as well as important environmental sounds like an alarm or a knock at the door.
  • The ASL-English Interpreters not only interpret classroom lectures, quizzes, tests and exams, but they interpret for group discussions during class, study/presentation groups and student/course instructor meetings.
  • Both types of service providers will need access to attending the course (in person and virtually for online courses or courses with online components/materials).


Since real time services of these types are mentally and physically demanding, two service providers may attend, spelling each other off after specific durations. This allows for continuous transcription or interpreting. If there is not enough room capacity for this, course instructors and CAL staff work with room scheduling to have the classroom moved to a larger venue.

There are times when the second transcriber connects remotely. When there is a remote transcriber, instructors must wear a microphone so the lecture can be heard clearly by the remote transcriber. The two transcribers link in via audio skype.

Materials and Course Access:

These service providers also need access to materials to prep in advance for providing these services with accuracy. They will require D2L access for any documents hosted there and access to any online web conferencing software that may be used to facilitate online lectures or other synchronous methods of participation. Transcribers need the course materials such as handouts, readings and access to D2L in order to add the course-specific vocabulary to their software program. They input shortcut abbreviations for the relevant terms and vocabulary for the course.

Any videos shown in class without closed captions should be made available beforehand to the transcriber.


Transcribers and Interpreters follow a professional code of ethics, all material is confidential, and they should not be asked to be involved in class as participants or to omit information. They respect the confidentiality of information that is shared by students and remove identifying information when sending the edited transcripts.

It is good practice to speak clearly so the transcriber hears you and to repeat or restate the comments or questions from the other students.

Coordination and Contact:

The Centre for Accessible Learning coordinates access and contact with these providers by providing advance notice to course instructors.