Due to the ongoing pandemic, most of the educational programs have resorted to online. While many are content with the online education process, many are not so happy about it. It’s true that there are both many advantages and disadvantages of online education. But is it the same for students with special needs, such as deaf students? Are they having the same advantages as others during online education, or are they facing much more barriers than others? While it is true that there is no better alternative at this moment, things can still change for the better regarding the online education of deaf students.
Deaf students already used to face numerous problems when they were attending physical classes in normal classrooms with other students, and they had to face hard times in order to adapt to that environment. But by resorting to various measures such as using hearing aids, depending on previously provided written notes, and many more, they did well to adapt. However, things significantly changed during online classes, as they are now having to adapt to the system from the start. Whereas many normal students and even teachers are facing problems regarding online education, it can be easily imagined how deaf students are coping with it.
There are different aspects of online education. Mostly teachers meet with other students for a live session via apps like google meet, zoom, etc., and take classes by communicating with the students directly. Again, some teachers make video materials on the needed topics and then provide them to the students. They also provide reading materials and stuff, both before and after live classes. While it is easier for deaf students to adapt to some of these, it is not as easy to adapt to things like live online classes.
But the good thing is, by taking care of some stuff, online classes and other aspects of an online education program can be made more accessible to deaf students so that they can adapt to it more easily. Then they will be able to get way more benefits from these online classes. And there are actually quite some benefits of these online education programs for deaf students. Let’s have a look at these benefits.
More Flexibility and Better Time Management
With online education programs, any student gets more flexibility to manage various affairs in their lives, and the same goes for deaf students too. There are many students, both deaf students, and students with good hearing, who need to juggle between their different works and studies in order to make time for all and complete them. It is way harder with physical classes, as a student gets committed for a huge portion of a day in order to join classes, seminars, study circles, and so much more, and hardly any time remains to do other things. But with online classes, the routine gets way more flexible and easy to maintain. As classes have become shorter, and all the materials can be easily accessed anytime, any student can arrange their other works easily aligning with the classes.
Online education programs offer the opportunity to learn at your own pace, as you don’t have the pressure to get a hold of your lessons at one shot when you are at the class. Through online education, you can access the study materials anytime you want, and you can go back to review them to properly understand them. Many students, especially deaf ones, don’t feel comfortable asking the teachers to repeat a lecture, but with online education, they can access previous lectures easily, and understand them at their own pace.
No Nervousness or Awkwardness
During physical classes at colleges or universities, many deaf students had a hard time properly adapting among other students. Even though they use hearing aids or other things to make themselves listen better, they always feel kind of nervous to make conversations with other students, talk to their teachers, etc. They also feel awkward and uncomfortable asking their teacher to repeat a lecture, as they might think that all the other students would think this is due to the student’s deafness. However, these problems get a lot nerfed in online education programs, so the deaf students can completely be themselves.
Refined Skills of Critical Thinking
One of the most important benefits of online education is that these programs make the students think critically about any given topic, and these programs demand different and out-of-the-box thoughts from each student, as online education is mostly assignment-based, unlike classroom education. This isn’t much possible in the normal setting. So, along with others, deaf students also achieve great critical thinking skills.
New Technical Skills
To complete various online education programs, any student has to deal with a lot of technical skills, as they need to use various software’s and tools, they need to deal with digital learning materials, and also get familiar with various collaboration tools, troubleshooting systems, and content management systems. Most importantly, a student learns to collaborate with others remotely, which is a great skill. A deaf student can get all these skills through online education, and make themselves highly skilled and eligible for the job market.
Virtual Communication and Collaboration
As said earlier, deaf students can learn to communicate and collaborate with others virtually with the online education programs, and it can be really helpful in all of their future endeavors. Participating in discussion boards with classmates, communicating with the professor via emails, creating efficient processes, etc. can come in really handy too.
How To Make Online Education More Beneficial
We have seen how deaf students can get benefitted from online education programs. But to make these benefits more accessible to deaf students, some measures need to be taken. One of the most important things is to ensure proper device usage by them, especially hearing aids that can help them based on their specific needs. Since they’ll be dealing with a lot of technologies, Bluetooth hearing aids will do better. Then the teacher and the classmates will have to be understanding of the special needs of a deaf student, and be more helpful towards them.
For instance, they can help them with visual communication by focusing the camera on their faces properly so that the deaf ones can see their faces while communicating and lipread. Also, they can talk slowly. Another important thing is to have PowerPoint slides for all the lessons so that the lessons can be accessed easily before and after the class. Also, automated live captions can be used during classes, and captions must be utilized in the video materials. All these things can help a deaf student be properly benefitted from online education programs.
Even though accessing online programs and benefitting from them can be a bit tough for deaf students, and they need some technological and other help in doing it, online education can be highly beneficial for them. These education programs come with great opportunities, and a deaf student can be greatly benefitted from them.
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