Student campaigns for real time captions at school

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Monday, 21 October 2013 15:58pm

Earlier this month high school senior Delanie Harrington delivered a petition of 1,900 signatures to the Poway Unified School District Board of Education in San Diego California asking for real time captioning in the classroom.

Real time captions provide equal access to education by offering a rolling transcript of a teacher’s voice. They are created by a professional captioner working in a remote location, who coverts an audio feed into text. While the school district makes American Sign Language interpreters available, as Harrington does not use sign language she requires captions.

As reported ABC 10 News San Diego, the petition came after several years of action by Harrington and her parents. Harrington’s parents first requested live captioning before her first year of high school. When the school board refused to provide it, the Harringtons sued, claiming their daughter was being discriminated against. While the court ruled in the Harrington’s favour, the Board of Education is now appealing the decision.

“I come home from school exhausted and with headaches because I overextend myself, simply trying to listen,” Harrington told the Board. “I do well because I choose to. My brain works, my ears don’t.”

Real time captioning is one in a suite of technology solutions which make classrooms more equitable. In Australia, we advocate for all media in the classroom to be captioned. Not only does this provide access to the huge number of Deaf and hearing impaired students in mainstream schools, but it also helps diverse learners. Both these solutions meet different access needs and complement one other.

Media Access Australia’s Education Manager, Anne McGrath considers “access to information to be the key for students to understand and build on their learning. Captions provide effective access to information and enhance the teaching and learning process”.

For Harrington, it is a matter of waiting and hoping the Board of Education decides to fund real time captioning before she graduates next year.

“I wanted to show them it's something I really care about, not only for me, but the other kids as well," she said. "I hope they got to see that."

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