UBC has started classes online which prompted the Accessibility Collective to ask the question: is it accessible? In a panel discussion, they chat with Bowen Tang, Jessie Blair and Catherine Siegler about it and how the pandemic has changed the way they work. Accessibility Collective member, Nicole Le, also chats with University students, Alexandria McGarva and Dianne Cervantes about how it has affected them and more.
Producers: Deepi, Gura, Nicole and Monica
1 CiTR 101.9 FM Radio Interview - Sept 4, 2020
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17 MONICA [HOST]: Hello, everyone, my name is Monica, and
18 you're listening to Season 5's all access pass, the
19 summer edition on CiTR 101.9 FM. I hope everyone is
20 doing well. From our homes and on Skype I am joined
21 by my Accessibility Collective team-mates, Gura and
22 Nicole. And this is our show topic for today: How
23 are online classes accessible for the disability
24 community or are they? This is our discussion topic,
25 because many schools in general, including UBC, are
1 moving classes online for at least the first semester
2 due to the pandemic.
3 Nicole, can you please tell us more about Dianne
4 and Alexandria, and when did the online classes first
6 NICOLE [INTERVIEWER]: Hi, Monica, thank you, and hello,
7 everybody. Nice to be back. So I will start off with
8 I was a university student for about eight to nine
9 years, and every time September rolled around, I would
10 dub the Green Day song: When September ends for when
11 September comes, in my head, and I would just kind of
12 get prepared for the arduous term coming up.
13 But this time, though, there are thousands of
14 students across the province that will be returning
15 back to another new era of class-room learning as
16 COVID-19 has definitely taken our lives for now, and
17 in some way or another, everybody is affected. But
18 for students, they've been affected for six months
19 now, since school in the province had shut down. They
20 had shut down in-person class-rooms, that being in the
21 second week of March. It feels like a long time ago
22 when that happened, and yet everyone still faces a lot
23 of uncertainties, but what about people with
25 So I don't know about you, but there are some
1 people who have witnessed how other people with
2 disabilities who were quite drastically and almost
3 catastrophically affected, and not just in Canada, but
4 across the globe when it came to accessible learning.
5 People of all sorts of learning needs were thrown into
6 online classes and found themselves not only
7 struggling with the same technical and privacy issues
8 that many of us as teachers and parents, business
9 persons were dealing with, but people with diverse
10 abilities, like hearing loss and autism found
11 themselves straining to understand, to make out the
12 sounds that were coming from the laptop. I mean
13 people with visual -- who relied on visual cues, like
14 facial and body cues or lip-reading found themselves
15 staring at a screen and struggling to understand their
16 classmates and class context that were, you know,
17 superimportant for their education. And you know,
18 similarly there were people who relied mostly on sign
19 language, for example, or realtime captioning in
20 class-rooms, found themselves having to suddenly force
21 themselves to use auto-generated captioning in a
22 pinch, that sometimes happened. Or often they
23 wouldn't even get realtime sign language interpreting.
24 So these are just a snippet of some of the
25 struggles that people with diverse abilities happened
1 to find themselves since COVID-19 has shut down
2 in-person classes.
3 So now that summer has ended, and, you know, a
4 lot of students probably took the time off, the
5 teachers have likely taken the time to reflect on the
6 new teaching era and has scrambled to kind of prepare
7 for what we do and don't know what this upcoming term
8 will look like. Some people have in the meantime
9 taken to media, and accessibility centres to voice
10 their needs, in anticipation of the upcoming fall
11 term, the...term of the...
12 So I went to go talk to -- I haven't been a
13 student for a while. This is a very new era. So I
14 went to talk to students, Alexandria and Dianne that
15 Monica mentioned, to gather kind of what they're
16 feeling and what they're anticipating as well about
17 the upcoming class. So I first have -- so the first
18 student we have here is Alexandria. She is a student
19 in Health Information Science at the University of
20 Victoria. She is hard of hearing and has a cochlear
21 implant, and to make things a little bit more
22 complicated, she has unfortunately sustained a
23 concussion, which made her studies a little bit more
24 difficult. So we reached out to her to hear what she
25 had to say about her past experience and her feelings
1 about online classes.
2 So prior to COVID-19, Alexandria, you were
3 taking your classes in person with the help of
4 transcribers, and then over the summer you were
5 experiencing a different kind of class format due to
6 COVID-19, and then you came across captions. Could
7 you tell our listeners all about this and what you
8 mean by "craptions"?
9 ALEXANDRIA McGARVA [STUDENT]: Yeah, so contraption
10 "craptions" is captioning autogenerated by the video
11 software. It's often riddled with errors, and this
12 can be in the form of words being replaced with other
13 words that don't necessarily sound the same or even
14 just missing altogether. And these sorts of
15 autogenerated captions are affected by accents,
16 background noise and speech impediments. And the
17 reality is most people do not have...autogenerated
18 captions will get correctly the first time. Yeah, so
19 when you rely on it, it's not great.
20 And then the last thing with craptions is you
21 spend more time deciphering what I'm hearing versus
22 reading so I can figure out what was actually said,
23 and that means that it takes away from me learning the
24 content that is being taught in the lecture.
25 NICOLE [INTERVIEWER]: And this coming fall term, what are
1 you anticipating?
2 ALEXANDRIA McGARVA [STUDENT]: Feeling a lot apprehension,
3 anticipating a lot of barriers. ...switching learning
4 platforms, so, like, this summer, courses were
5 basically troubleshooting, I guess, troubleshooting
6 how to adjust the accommodations to online... So now
7 we're switching to a new learning platform, so using
8 different platform, using different software and
9 everything. Very interesting.
10 The other thing is, like, for my summer courses,
11 all my lectures were prerecorded. I got used to it.
12 I figured out how to accommodate myself...situation,
13 and then with the fall courses, they're all going to
14 be live classes, so you're still attending the class,
15 it's just by Zoom, which will be easier to follow
16 along the transcription because the class is live, so
17 the transcriptions are live. So it's talking at the
18 same time so you're not trying to figure out where the
19 script fits into the video.
20 So I know...thesis which I think...is using,
21 which is an online high school, and what I'm kind of
22 anticipating is my professors using YouTube, because
23 "sides" is using YouTube so show their videos, and
24 those have autogenerated captions on them. So in
25 YouTube you can edit the captions so that they're
1 correct. So that is an opportunity to allow the
2 transcribers to fix the captions, so it is correct as
3 they're watching, not me trying to match up two
4 documents. So, yeah, that is an anticipated issue and
5 possible solutions. Fingers crossed.
6 MONICA [HOST]: We reached her in Victoria over...
7 NICOLE [INTERVIEWER]: And definitely didn't have a
8 conversation without a little bit of mishearing as a
9 person who also has hearing loss. But thank you
10 again, Alexandria, for joining us.
11 Next up I have another student, and her name is
12 Dianne Cervantes. Dianne is another individual, a
13 great individual who strives to give back to her
14 community. She is working on completing her
15 education. And in her story I really had no words to
16 describe it. I think she really just needs to tell it
17 herself, and I think you need to have a listen. Here
18 it is.
19 DIANNE CERVANTES [STUDENT]: First, I wanted to thank
20 Nicole for inviting me to the radio show, and it’s
21 really important for me to share my experience having
22 no accessibility at school. I am trying to pursue my
23 nursing dream and be an RN as knowing as a Registered
24 nurse. I am currently working on prerequisites for
25 nursing programs, for now. This fall I’m taking
1 courses for nursing school: Anatomy and physiology and
2 English 12. I am the first deaf student in prenursing
3 school for adult school.
4 In the classroom I had an American Sign Language
5 interpreter showing up for English class sometimes,
6 But I wish I had ASL interpreters show for classes
7 every day. I had to rely on my microphone and rely on
8 my hearing... It was so hard for me to stare and read
9 the teacher’s lips every day. It was painful to
10 experience this because I have not got used to
11 depending on hearing all the time. It is not
12 one-on-one learning material. I tend not to rely on
13 reading lips or hearing; in fact, there is some
14 misunderstanding. I only had to sit down and nod,
15 pretend to listen to what I’ve learned. Despite not
16 raising my hands, I still had to stay quiet because
17 there are no interpreters. When you have ASL
18 interpreters, it is easier for me to see the pictures
19 in my head automatically.
20 Online classes are good to have. It has
21 everything. It helps rewind to learn lessons before
22 classes start. There is live on-video teaching, and
23 automated closed captions, but for closed-captioning,
24 these are not always accurate. It is okay for me to
25 chat with my teachers if I need some help or
1 clarification. It is easy for me to type and click
2 "send". I wish there is an interpreter on the small
3 screen for deaf access. Unfortunately, this is why I
4 asked the teacher to hand me the lessons for the next
5 day, so it would help me to prepare a review.
6 One thing about the U-Pass thing. They should
7 allow students to make choices whether if they want to
8 keep it or not. It is up to students’ choices to
9 make. Some of them don’t need it because they have a
10 car to drive to school. What is the point of having a
11 U-Pass if they offered online delivery, especially
12 with this pandemic, they stay home and go to online
13 class without having a U-Pass.
14 So these things don’t add up and make no sense.
15 I refuse to waste my money. I decide to withdraw that
16 application for one course that requires for nursing
18 NICOLE [INTERVIEWER]: That was Dianne Cervantes on the
19 upcoming school year. She was born with cerebral
20 palsy in the Philippines. When she completed her high
21 school education in Chicago, and then she moved to
22 Canada with her family. So she's deaf and as she said
23 she prefers sign language, but today she stepped out
24 of her comfort zone to use her voice, and spoken
25 language to tell us her story. So thank you, Dianne
1 for doing that. I know that was a lot of work for you
2 on your part.
3 She continues, you know, today to fight for her
4 education so that it is accessible, so she can follow
5 her passion in becoming a registered nurse, and,
6 Dianne, as a fellow nurse, you know, I'm cheering you
7 on, and I wish you all the best. I'm sure myself and
8 others are quite deeply touched by your story. So
9 thank you very much for sharing that.
10 As well, Alexandria thank you as well for
11 sharing your story, and I'm sure you trying to put
12 together your class content quite quickly and adapting
13 to all the different platforms on top of a concussion
14 has been so difficult.
15 So you two belong with all the other students
16 out there, with diverse abilities are dealing with a
17 lot, and which is why we're here today to talk about
18 accessible learning.
19 MONICA [HOST]: Thank you, Nicole, for your report on --
20 and Dianne and Alexandria -- thank you for your
21 stories and thoughts. I know I learned a lot from
22 listening to you.
23 Now, we're switching gears to our panel
24 discussion on the pros and cons of online classes,
25 specifically looking at responses from students with
1 disabilities, we have three panelists here with us.
2 So can you all please introduce yourselves and tell us
3 a little bit about yourself. Let's start with Jessie.
4 JESSIE BLAIR [PANELIST]: Well, thank you, Monica. I'm
5 Jessie Blair, and I'm an entrepreneur, and
6 undergraduate student at UBC. My major is sociology
7 and I'm doing a minor in creative writing. I have a
8 learning disability that makes it difficult for me to
9 read and comprehend material, and of course doing math
10 as well. I also have mobility issues and some hearing
12 MONICA [HOST]: Okay, thank you, Jessie. And our next
13 panelist is Bowen.
14 BOWEN TANG [PANELIST]: Hello, there. Thank you for
15 having me. My name is Bowen, and I am a teacher for
16 the deaf and hard of hearing. I also have a hearing
17 loss myself with a profound level of hearing loss. So
18 I wear cochlear implants and a hearing-aid. In my
19 spare time outside of teaching, I do a lot of work in
20 advocating in the deaf and hard of hearing community,
21 particularly recently on the international level as my
22 role as the president of the International Federation
23 of Hard-of-Hearing Young People.
24 MONICA [HOST]: Thank you, Bowen. And last but certainly
25 not least, Catherine?
1 CATHERINE SIEGLER [PANELIST]: I'm your typical person,
2 quiet in the court-room, in the past quiet in the
3 court-room with a little machine in front of me. I
4 started training at Langara, and then at BCIT, and for
5 15 years I worked as a court reporter. What was
6 initially really exciting work turned to boredom and
7 very long hours, if not writing, then preparing
8 certified transcripts. Then one day I was contacted
9 by a person with hearing loss. Would I caption the
10 CHHA, which is Canadian Hard of Hearing AGM. Would I?
11 From that first emotionally charged experience, I knew
12 I had found my passion. I formed Accurate Realtime
13 Inc., the only BC company solely dedicated to
14 providing instant (otherwise known as realtime)
15 speech-to-text for people with hearing loss in any
16 situation, whether court, hospital, school, or church.
17 We originally all graduated from an accredited school
18 as certified court reporters writing at 225 words per
19 minute with at least 96% accuracy. My company
20 provides captioning to postsecondary students as well
21 as individuals and corporations, government, agencies,
22 and etc.
23 MONICA [HOST]: Thank you, Catherine. And the next
24 question will be asked by Nicole.
25 NICOLE [INTERVIEWER]: Thank you, guys for introducing,
1 welcome to CiTR. Let's go into detail about what got
2 you interested in what you're currently doing.
3 Jessie, would you like to go first?
4 JESSIE BLAIR [PANELIST]: Yeah, thank you, Nicole. I like
5 working with people. I have credentials and
6 experience as a social service worker, and sociology
7 complements that learning because it helps me
8 understand group dynamics at a deeper level, and I'm
9 taking creative writing just because it's fun and I
10 enjoy writing. Yeah.
11 NICOLE [INTERVIEWER]: Bowen, how about you?
12 BOWEN TANG [PANELIST]: Well, I knew that I wanted to be a
13 teacher right from when I was very young, partly
14 because my dad was a teacher himself. So since school
15 I only have one path in mind, and that was to become a
16 teacher, and now it's pretty straightforward to me.
17 And in high school I decided that -- well, first I
18 encountered someone, a teacher for the deaf and hard
19 of hearing who also happened to have a hearing loss,
20 so she gave me the inspiration to consider going
21 specifically into the deaf education, because I wanted
22 to give back to the community, sharing the experiences
23 that I had and the support I received from the
24 professionals that I worked with so I could transfer
25 the skills that I learned to the next generation of
1 young people focussing on self-advocacy and building
2 the confidence to accept who they are and be able
3 to...the society in a field that they are passionate
4 about, and just to let them know there's a lot of
5 possibilities out there waiting for them.
6 And the other piece about how I got involved
7 with the international organization is because I love
8 to travel, and it just so happened that I met a group
9 of international hard-of-hearing young people from
10 different parts of the world, and I realized that not
11 every place has the same level of support for
12 hard-of-hearing people. So then that's how I got
13 involved and try to understand more about the
14 differences in other parts of the world, and do my
15 best to share information and resources so that no
16 matter where we live on this planet, we should have
17 the same level of access to education, to employment,
18 and in any areas of our lives.
19 NICOLE [INTERVIEWER]: An honour to have you here today,
21 Catherine, your story has been so interesting,
22 and I am always so glad that you're helpful in our
23 community. Tell us, I don't know, what got you
24 interested in exactly what you're doing now?
25 CATHERINE SIEGLER [PANELIST]: I was in court reporting
1 for 15 years, but I got really bored with it. And
2 when I was 15, I heard that there was -- Cicero who
3 was a great Roman orator had devised a shorthand
4 system that kept up with the spoken word, and I was
5 fascinated by that, so I enrolled in school, and I was
6 in the first year of shorthand, and I met a Hansard
7 writer from Ottawa, and she said, "No, no, forget
8 about that, the new technology is a machine
9 shorthand." So then I studied that, and I am really,
10 really happy that I diverted from court reporting to
11 captioning, and so anyway, I could go on at great
12 length, but I won't because I've already taken up too
13 much time.
14 GURA [INTERVIEWER]: All right, thank you very much,
16 Just to move on to the next question, this is a
17 two-part question, and the question asks (a) what are
18 your thoughts on what is currently happening around us
19 and around the world, and (b), personally how has the
20 pandemic affected you and the work you do. Let's
21 start with Bowen first, if that's okay?
22 BOWEN TANG [PANELIST]: Well, without a doubt, 2020 is a
23 very interesting year. It's almost like we're living
24 in a movie right now, you know, with so many
25 unexpected things happening, not just with COVID-19,
1 but all the recent events that happen. Every month
2 there's always something new. So, you know, it can be
3 easy to feel frustrated and particularly helpless and
4 with the rapid change in our life-styles. Staying at
5 home is definitely tough for me personally because I
6 love to move around and especially when I mentioned
7 earlier I love to travel. So technically the planet
8 earth has grounded me from not being able to go
9 anywhere that I usually would.
10 But on the positive side I think that it really
11 does give us the opportunity to reflect on how we live
12 our lives, and there's some positive things in the
13 work how it showcases the problems that we have been
14 ignoring, and it really forces us to pay attention to
15 these problems. And in the case of accessibility, as
16 you know when we moved on to online learning, we're
17 really looking at how not just people with hearing
18 loss affected by this, but even typical-hearing people
19 have trouble navigating the online learning platform.
20 So I think in the end, you know, we all come out
21 better and stronger, and we will learn a lot from this
23 On a professional level, obviously it was quite
24 an adjustment for me to move to an online model for
25 teaching, but thankfully, you know, my students are
1 very tec savvy probably because they're younger than
2 me, and it didn't take too long to set up the online
3 format of teaching. And I used to teach one-on-one,
4 so it was just me and the student. So it wasn't a
5 challenge to do the communication with the student.
6 But it does require more creativity on my end to come
7 up with the new activities, learning about different
8 apps and online programs to engage the students to
9 continue working on their learning goals that we have
10 in the education plan.
11 And of course sitting in front of a screen for
12 six hours a day can be tough, and it can take a
13 personal toll physically. But, again, I'm taking it
14 in strides, and I think as human beings we're very
15 resilient to all the changes. So let's stay positive.
16 GURA [INTERVIEWER]: Fantastic answer. Catherine, would
17 you like to go next?
18 CATHERINE SIEGLER [PANELIST]: For this question I was
19 thinking more globally, I was thinking that we're
20 becoming more insular than we were before, because
21 we're forced to it. And as social animals, I think
22 humans need to interact, and this new way of being I
23 think is driving wedges between people and cultures
24 and nations, really. Our priorities have been forced
25 to shift. I think people feel a sense of loss and
1 fear for the future. I have to remind myself that
2 we're all feeling this, and am so grateful that we can
3 function as normally as we can, in spite of the many
4 physical constraints and inconveniences into the
5 unknown future. That's it for that one, kind of
6 depressing, sorry.
7 GURA [INTERVIEWER]: There's definitely some kind of
8 solace in the unified suffering that we're all going
9 through. I can totally relate to that.
10 How about you, Jessie?
11 JESSIE BLAIR [PANELIST]: Hi, Gura.
12 GURA [INTERVIEWER]: Hello?
13 JESSIE BLAIR [PANELIST]: Well, I'm concerned about
14 politics in the States and COVID, and because we're
15 trading partners and we're so close geographically,
16 but we experience the fallout from anything that will
17 happen there, and that's what my concern is. But
18 right now I think I have -- for myself, I'm just
19 keeping in mind that I need to stay vigilant and to
20 protect our health care and social programs, and that
21 Canada needs to be diverse and inclusive for
23 Professionally, in my business I conduct a lot
24 of interviews online, and I'm able to do that, and
25 even do interviews in the States online now. If it
1 weren't for being able to access interviews online, I
2 wouldn't be able to interview people down there,
3 because of COVID. I wouldn't be able to travel there.
4 So that's my two cents' worth.
5 GURA [INTERVIEWER]: Thank you so much. I'll pass it on
6 to Monica.
7 MONICA [HOST]: Okay, thank you, Gura.
8 So we the Accessibility Collective have
9 mentioned that it is difficult to manage, get
10 motivated or concentrate doing work or classes online.
11 Has this affected you as well or the people that you
12 work with? So this time let's start with Catherine.
13 CATHERINE SIEGLER [PANELIST]: I was thinking we have been
14 offering remote online work for quite a few years now,
15 so this isn't really new for us. So it wasn't so
16 shocking from one day to the next to stay home and
17 offer the service online. But except we have to do
18 now familiarize ourselves with umpteen webinar
19 platforms, and it's almost on a daily basis we have to
20 learn new ones. And not only that, we have to train
21 our captioners, because we have several people working
22 with us. And then they might have different court
23 reporting software as well.
24 I have not yet had much feedback from our
25 students, though, but -- the students who use our
1 services, but what I have heard is that they are --
2 they and corporate clients -- are concerned that they
3 will not be able to participate fully. So I feel it
4 sent them into a bit of a panic. Learning new
5 software on top of the other demands of a stressful
6 life, we now have to provide a lot more rehearsal
7 opportunities for them, the professors and for our
8 corporate clients. A lot of e-mails back and forth.
9 So that takes up a lot more time than it ever did
10 before. In a nutshell, though, online CART service or
11 communication access is not as financially rewarding
12 as on-site service. I feel in the remote setting I
13 provide better service, though, which I don't know if
14 the students feel this way, but I can hear the
15 instructors equally well, because they all use
16 head-sets, they don't wander around the class-room,
17 and I don't have to contend with extraneous class-room
18 noise -- unless somebody forgets to mute --. I have
19 access to all students' names, so I can insert them in
20 the transcripts that our students with hearing loss
21 will see, and our students can read each other's
22 questions in the chat area, and I can also see the
23 slides more easily. For some reason instructors seem
24 more cooperative with getting captioners with the
25 materials we need.
1 As far as challenges, online classes are
2 delivered in diverse ways. Some instructors elect to
3 prerecord classes, some have a smattering of videos
4 throughout their classes, with or without captions.
5 The autogenerated captions can be really poor,
6 resulting in misinformation and/or frustration. So
7 our students with hearing loss shouldn't have to work
8 harder than a normal-hearing person. As a result, our
9 students now want the captions embedded into videos
10 rather than us providing a separate transcript. So
11 this is a new service we now offer. The resultant
12 video text is 100% verbatim and much easier for the
13 student to use. However, it's been challenging
14 finding a price that compensates the captioner as it
15 takes us three times longer to prepare a video to
16 embed the captions. So if a video is 15 minutes long,
17 it takes 45 minutes for us to actually get the
18 captions in. And then processing it and making sure
19 it's private, because videos have a copyright on them,
20 and we have to ensure the privacy and that we follow
21 all the protocols. That's it for this one.
22 MONICA [HOST]: All right, thank you, Catherine. I had no
23 idea that it was so difficult to manage all of this.
24 And I definitely think that you're right, people who
25 are -- need captions or are hard of hearing definitely
1 shouldn't have to work harder than any regular student
2 that is not.
3 So Bowen, what are your thoughts on this?
4 BOWEN TANG [PANELIST]: Well, I completely agree with
5 Catherine about how there's just so many different
6 ways of doing online learning, and when the -- in the
7 early days of the pandemic, everybody was in a panic
8 mode, so all we were thinking at that point was trying
9 to triage the current semester, because they were
10 already halfway through the semester, and now they
11 have to try to figure out how to do the change while
12 keeping up with the curriculum of whatever courses
13 that they're taking.
14 So there was not a lot of opportunity for people
15 to really sit down and think about how to provide this
16 information, the content of the course in an
17 accessible way.
18 Now, fast forward to a couple of months later.
19 You know, we've learned from the experiences in the
20 early days, and we've had the time now over the summer
21 to think about what worked, what didn't work. So now
22 moving forward to the fall, I think that there is no
23 reason why there cannot be a plan be put in place to
24 make sure that whatever styles that the professor use,
25 we will be able to provide the option of giving the
1 students access. It all comes down to communication,
2 communication is very important between the professor,
3 the service providers, and the students themselves to
4 figure out what works best for everyone.
5 And the last thing I'm going to add is in one of
6 our recommendations from the global report on COVID-19
7 impact of -- on people with -- on hard of hearing
8 people is that we emphasize automatic captioning do
9 not replace live captioner because there is just a lot
10 of inaccuracy in the software that if the student
11 needs the information for educational purposes or even
12 a workplace meeting, live captioners is what we need
13 to ensure 100% access, whereas automatic captioning is
14 only used as the last resort in the event that for
15 whatever reason live captioners are not available to
16 provide the service. That's what I have to add to
18 MONICA [HOST]: Great answer. Jessie?
19 JESSIE BLAIR [PANELIST]: Okay, so I've taken some online
20 classes, and they seem to do well for me because
21 they're are videos of the lectures, and usually
22 there's a transcript, but if there's not a transcript,
23 then I can just bring up the lecture and go over the
24 most important points, but, like, for me, it means
25 going over that several times. It's so much easier
1 when I have the transcript, and I can follow along the
2 transcript, when somebody's giving a lecture because
3 that's part of my disability. And when I attend the
4 classes in person, there's of course usually a
5 note-taker in class that does that all for me. So
6 it's for me it's motivation to attend online classes
7 is no different than attending in person. I just have
8 to schedule the time to do homework and attend classes
9 if I want to do well in that course. But I encourage
10 people to reach out to their instructors or TAs and
11 accessibility workers if they're experiencing
12 difficulty getting motivated and learning online.
13 MONICA [HOST]: Thank you, Jessie. And Gura is going to
14 come in with the next question.
15 GURA [INTERVIEWER]: Hi, yes, so my next question,
16 question 5 is a question specific to you, Catherine.
17 The question is, Catherine, has there been a shortage
18 of transcribers pre-coved, and if there is an increase
19 in transcribers or demands for transcription, and if
20 so, how has your company adjusted?
21 CATHERINE SIEGLER [PANELIST]: That's a great question,
22 and it's a perennial question in my field of work.
23 Yes, there has always been a chronic shortage of
24 skilled CART captioners, even pre-COVID. For that
25 matter there has been a shortage of certified court
1 reporters and captioners for broadcast captioning, for
2 many years. I believe the shortage is because our
3 work is as a silent participant in any event, no one
4 knows what we do. For a two-year training program,
5 the drop-out rate in training is 80% or more. Then to
6 become a great shorthand writer takes many more years,
7 and the equipment purchase and maintenance and
8 software licence is very expensive, something like
9 $10,000 to start, not to mention the cost of
10 schooling. It's high-stress work where one is always
11 striving for perfection in sometimes less than optimal
12 environments. As well, generally court reporters
13 prefer litigation work to the challenging of mastering
14 the many academic disciplines with their specialized
15 vocabularies. So I hope I've answered your question,
16 we're chronically short, and I've even taken to
17 training people myself, but to get to be really good,
18 by the time you retire, then you're starting to get
19 really good at it.
20 NICOLE [INTERVIEWER]: Wow, Catherine, I'm so appreciative
21 of you being a transcriber and staying with the
22 hard-of-hearing community and offering help, because
23 wow, [chuckling].
24 Bowen, I have a specific question for you. You
25 being a teacher with regard to the demand for online
1 classes, did you see a demand for sign language
2 interpreters on your hand, transcribers on your end,
3 and if so, what do you have to say about that. And
4 you also have that point of view from the global
5 perspective, you've done some work, and you still do.
6 What can you say about that?
7 BOWEN TANG [PANELIST]: Well, you know, very interesting
8 observation that I made about how in a way online
9 classes have made it easier for us to access the
10 service providers, particularly for those of us who
11 live in rural areas, let's say Prince George, for
12 example. So before, it was very difficult to get the
13 service providers, sign language interpreters or
14 captionists, because there's nobody in the area that
15 are able to come on campus to be -- to provide the
16 service. And so now looking at the online platform,
17 it's so much easier to recruit service providers,
18 regardless of where they live, as long as they have a
19 solid connection, I mean their WiFi connection, and I
20 think it just provides more flexibility in providing
21 the services, so we could find a captionist from
22 anywhere in BC, Alberta, Ontario, and have that person
23 joining our online class and provide the services.
24 So I think that's a really positive aspect of
25 coming out of this is there's more options for us to
1 access those services. I would say that it all comes
2 down to figuring out the technology and making sure
3 that there's clear communication between all parties
4 that I believe, I strongly believe, that for any
5 hard-of-hearing person or deaf as well, if they are to
6 take a class, there is no reason why they should not
7 have access to either a sign language interpreter or a
9 NICOLE [INTERVIEWER]: I'm learning so much from you,
10 Jessie and Catherine, from all aspects of this, and
11 I'm so surprised how the online experience has changed
12 and how people have adapted. I know and maybe some of
13 us do not know, but here in BC as we were moving past
14 the summer into the fall term, the government wasn't
15 sure if we were going to have classes in person or
16 online, and Bowen, I know you work with younger
17 students who are kindergarten, some of them grade 1.
18 But as many of you probably don't know, teachers don't
19 work during the summer, they're not paid to do any
20 kind of work, but you might prepare as teachers in
21 some way, but you're just not paid. So you also, you
22 know, as a hard-of-hearing person, you can think about
23 these anticipations, so that helps. But as a teacher,
24 how do you think that prepares teachers in general
25 into supplying accessible friendly education of all
2 BOWEN TANG [PANELIST]: Well first of all I'd like to say
3 that because the whole COVID-19 situation is
4 fluctuating, so I understand that, you know, the
5 ministry of education and the Ministry of Health are
6 not able to make a quick decision. It requires
7 continual monitoring in order to make a well-informed
8 decision. Well, I will say, though, is teachers do
9 definitely need more time to ensure that the
10 class-rooms are set up in a safe way, and especially
11 for those learners with special needs, because it's
12 not just about thinking of the physical distancing and
13 washing your hands and hand sanitizing. I think what
14 is forgotten is about the time needed to plan for
15 communication accessibility. So regardless of whether
16 the learner is hearing or hard-of-hearing or any other
17 diverse abilities. When the teachers and peers wear
18 masks that already impedes communication because it
19 changes the acoustic signal regardless of any kind of
20 mask that you wear, whether it is a medical mask, a
21 cloth mask, a window mask. Communication is not going
22 to be the way it used to be. So I feel that as a
23 teacher, we need that time to think through all the
24 possible scenarios, not just in the physical
25 environment, but also the acoustic environment so that
1 we can start the year out right.
2 So at my school I am fortunate that...two days
3 that all teachers have to plan in the class-room, we
4 have the gradual entry where we can slowly get these
5 students accustomed to the new environment where they
6 only have to come in for an hour-and-a-half for the
7 first two days, and then half day in the next week,
8 and then full day the following week. So that gives
9 us time to look at how the students respond to the new
10 environment, and make the necessary adjustments.
11 So I always keep bringing it back to the point
12 of communication, because that is really what will
13 make everything successful and provide a very smooth
14 learning experience, minimizing the level of
15 frustration where a lot of us are feeling as we think
16 about going back to school.
17 NICOLE [INTERVIEWER]: Thank you, Bowen, very insightful.
18 Jessie, this question is for you. What are your
19 thoughts on this? Do you think there are less or even
20 more resources, lack of education when it comes to
21 online versus in-person classes with respect to COVID?
22 JESSIE BLAIR [PANELIST]: Well, I would say probably the
23 biggest lack of resources, the realtime social
24 interaction and connection with other people, because
25 that would be our best resource.
1 So there are technical supplements such as
2 recorded lectures, but if you have a question about
3 something in that lecture, you're unable to ask the
4 instructor in that moment, and so you need to
5 follow-up with an e-mail to the instructor or the TAs
6 and wait for their written response, and that doesn't
7 always work for somebody with my disability, because
8 sometimes if I don't understand a concept, I can't
9 build on that learning, I have to understand what I'm
10 actually trying -- what the concept is before I can go
11 on from there.
12 MONICA [HOST]: All right. So our next question is a
13 two-parter. So part (a) is what is something that you
14 find challenging about online classes that you think
15 is important for professors or fellow students who are
16 not hard of hearing or have a disability, what they
17 need to understand, and part (b) I think specifically
18 for Bowen, what can you say about students with
19 disabilities who might need to learn some social
20 skills, like kindergarten students or, you know, as
21 everyone else we need to work on group projects. What
22 would your role be to be able to do in meeting those
23 needs of classes who are all online.
24 So let's start with Jessie.
25 JESSIE BLAIR [PANELIST]: There needs to be a way to talk
1 to the instructor or the TAs directly so that you can
2 clear up any misconceptions about what you're trying
3 to learn. Like, that would be my biggest -- I would
4 need to learn more.
5 And my suggestion would be maybe video calls
6 with captioning, or, you know, like, kind of having
7 that more realtime conversation so that you can ask
8 follow-up questions and clear up any kind of
9 misconception, rather than waiting and responding to
10 written e-mails.
11 MONICA [HOST]: And Bowen, do you have any thoughts?
12 BOWEN TANG [PANELIST]: Well, rather than speaking about
13 the professors, because I think the professors
14 generally will be cooperative when they are given the
15 right information. What I'd like to say is to the
16 students who are taking the class, is to ask the
17 student who utilizes the services whether it is a
18 captionist or a sign language, I think that what
19 students tend to do is take those services for
20 granted, and they expect the service provider to do
21 most of the work in -- working with the professors to
22 figure out the whole system of providing access. I
23 think it's important to remember that we are working
24 in partnership. It is between the student, the
25 service provider and the teacher to work -- to talk
1 about how they can work --
2 NICOLE [INTERVIEWER]: I think we're just getting some
3 phone calls here. I just wanted to say, you know, how
4 Bowen has been doing in this interview is as a person
5 with hearing loss is speaking up for himself and
6 saying hey, it helps if you have a video here, it
7 helps if you turn off your mike if you're not
8 speaking, and I love that message. I think to the
9 students, you know, you have a role as well to speak
10 up for yourself. It's very two-way. I just wanted to
11 add that in there. Thank you.
12 BOWEN TANG [PANELIST]: Yes, so I think that's pretty much
13 what I wanted to emphasize is that students need to
14 step up to be advocates for themselves to make sure
15 that they are getting what they need, because
16 ultimately it is still learning; right? Nobody's
17 really going to do your learning for you, so it's up
18 to you to work with the people who are there to help
19 you and make it -- and set yourself up for success.
20 MONICA [HOST]: I think that is a great message that any
21 student should take initiative in their own learning.
22 Gura, can you take it away?
23 GURA [INTERVIEWER]: Absolutely. Those are some very
24 insightful answers.
25 Onto question 8. The question is how have you
1 been handling the transition to online teaching and
2 learning? We kind of touched a little bit on that,
3 but I'd love to hear you thoughts again on that.
4 Let's start with you, Bowen?
5 BOWEN TANG [PANELIST]: I think at this point I've got a
6 pretty good handle -- actually I'm not doing any
7 online teaching at this moment because I'll be back in
8 the class-room. So what I would say to those out
9 there who are doing online learning is to have
10 patience. That's the best way for you to handle the
11 transition. Trust that eventually things will work
12 out, because everybody's doing the best, and as Dr.
13 Henry says, be kind to each other. So that's all you
14 really need to be able to handle that transition to
15 online learning.
16 GURA [INTERVIEWER]: Excellent. How about you, Catherine?
17 CATHERINE SIEGLER [PANELIST]: Well, I was just thinking
18 that I'm not doing the teaching, and the transition
19 has been quite smooth for captioners because in my
20 company, we've been doing online captioning for many
22 GURA [INTERVIEWER]: Absolutely. Jessie, do you have any
23 comments to add?
24 JESSIE BLAIR [PANELIST]: Well, I'm okay with the
25 transition, and I ask for help when I need it. So I'm
1 doing okay with the transition?
2 GURA [INTERVIEWER]: That's fantastic to hear. And I'd I
3 like to pass it on to Nicole?
4 NICOLE: I definitely wanted to refer back to one of the
5 students, Dianne, who as she mentioned really needs to
6 have that visual, have the material prepared
7 beforehand, she needs to have an sign language
8 interpreter. And so a lot of adaptation to teaching
9 materials. Myself as a nursing student back way --
10 way -- a long time ago, is I sometimes needed to have
11 material prepared beforehand as well. You know, the
12 class was quite context-heavy. Sometimes if it's hard
13 to understand, we had to take statistics, so it was
14 hard to kind of hard understand the equation, yet they
15 would turn around and write on the board and then they
16 wouldn't know what they're saying in terms of their
17 reasoning, so I'm not good at math.
18 So what would you say about having to adapt
19 teaching material for online format and delivery, and
20 do you think that would actually increase awareness
21 for accommodations for people with disabilities? It
22 sounds like, but what do you think? I'm going to
23 start with Jessie for this one?
24 JESSIE BLAIR [PANELIST]: I think it will increase
25 awareness for a lot of people, but some people -- like
1 if you're another student, you may or may not be
2 paying attention to it, you know, but I think for most
3 people it will increase awareness.
4 NICOLE [INTERVIEWER]: What about your math classes,
5 Jessie? Have you had difficulty with that. With your
6 spatial awareness?
7 JESSIE BLAIR [PANELIST]: In the past I have. I'm not
8 taking any math classes currently. I do have
9 statistics coming up, and I'm not looking forward to
10 that, that's just life for most students, I think,
12 NICOLE [INTERVIEWER]: Got you. Thank you. Catherine,
13 any guess do you think it would increase awareness?
14 CATHERINE SIEGLER [PANELIST]: No, no, I'll pass on this
15 because it's really for Bowen and Jessie.
16 NICOLE [INTERVIEWER]: All right, Bowen?
17 BOWEN TANG [PANELIST]: Well, as we talk about how there's
18 a lot of videos content being generated for online
19 classes, so I think it definitely will create
20 awareness where people need to consider the for
21 captions for these videos. And when this whole online
22 class is over, and we are moving back to in-person
23 classes, it will really, you know, be -- all the
24 experiences that we have now for online learning will
25 be at the back of our minds as we move on to the
1 in-person learning, and it will -- I'm confident that
2 there's an opportunity for us to really look at the
3 problems that we've ignored for so long, and positive
4 things moving forward.
5 NICOLE [INTERVIEWER]: Good point, Bowen.
6 To close a message from each of you to all
7 relevant parties with regard to accessible learning,
8 students, parents, employers, educators, interpreters,
9 government parties, in regards to making education
10 more accessible, in your opinion what can they do
11 during these difficult and unprecedented COVID times?
12 I'll go with Jessie?
13 JESSIE BLAIR [PANELIST]: Well, I would say encourage the
14 students to reach out to the instructors, their
15 support workers, their TAs. If they're experiencing
16 difficulty with motivation and learning for instructs
17 I would say to consider making the video calls
18 available to students with disabilities so that
19 there's some realtime interaction and follow-up
20 questions and rather than going back and forth with
21 the messaging, because some people have that reading
22 disability that makes messaging frustrating. And
23 employers, instructors, case workers, family members,
24 friends, just please be patient with us. We learn
1 NICOLE [INTERVIEWER]: Thank you, Jessie.
2 Bowen, what message would you have?
3 BOWEN TANG [PANELIST]: Communication, communication,
4 communication. I cannot emphasize enough how
5 important it is to communicate with each other. The
6 students need to speak up when things are not going
7 their way. It is your learning that is at stake here.
8 So if something is not working out for you, speak up,
9 and let the instructors and service providers know.
10 Make sure that you do this in a reasonable amount of
11 time where it will give them the opportunity to make
12 the adjustments to make the learning experience better
13 for you. Don't wait until the last minute. And I
14 agree with Jessie about just being patient, and this
15 applies to everybody involved in your learning
16 process, just be patient with each other, be open with
17 each other, be honest and transparent with each other.
18 NICOLE [INTERVIEWER]: And Catherine?
19 CATHERINE SIEGLER [PANELIST]: Yeah, I have a little bit
20 more to say about this. I agree with Bowen and
21 Jessie, and I think that as far as everyone having
22 communication access pre-and post-COVID, just ask for
23 what you need from the institutions' accessibility
24 centre, the instructors, the employer. I know with
25 young students, they're self-conscious, and they may
1 find it difficult to do that, but I encourage it. I
2 always have and I always will. And it's better to ask
3 for more than what you think you need than to discover
4 too late that you've wasted time trying to sort out
5 communication access, and you miss out on
6 participation. The fact is that a person with hearing
7 loss, unless you have a monitor like captioning, you
8 really don't know what you missed or misheard. So
9 don't settle for: Good enough, or I'll get by, or
10 it's too much trouble. I suspect future meetings will
11 be much more blended, so invest energy into being
12 familiar with the basics of the webinar software
13 you're using, observe online etiquette, including
14 being punctual, and expect high standards, everyone
15 can avail themselves of captioning by the click of the
16 closed captioning, CC button. That's all I have to
17 say about that.
18 NICOLE [INTERVIEWER]: Well said. All great messages.
19 MONICA [HOST]: All right, so that wraps our panel
20 discussion on accessibility and online classes.
21 Special thanks to Jessie Blair, Catherine
22 Siegler, and Bowen Tang for sharing their thoughts and
23 taking the time to talk with us.
24 NICOLE [INTERVIEWER]: So I actually have a question. So
25 I've been a student, as you know for many, many years,
1 and it was really hard to transition into
2 postsecondary school because like many of you said,
3 students have to speak up, they have to advocate for
4 themselves, and I guess on top of that I was also
5 discriminated a couple of times for my disability.
6 And also, like, when you're a young adult or a kid,
7 you want to blend in; right? You don't want to stick
8 out like a sore thumb. But, again, you see me and I
9 have hearing aids, and oh, you're a young person. So
10 I guess my question, actually, maybe to Monica because
11 Monica is the only one who doesn't have a disability
12 here, but I kind of have a curiosity. I always have
13 to ask for my accommodations to be met, like Catherine
14 and Bowen and Jessie were mentioning. I have to ask,
15 like, "Oh, can I sit in front seat?" Or, "Can you use
16 my listening device so I can hear you?" And sometimes
17 people are apprehensive about that because they're
18 worried that I might record them, like what is this
19 strange device, or I might have someone like Catherine
20 sitting in the room, like typing what everybody's
21 saying, and I've always kind of -- I mean I had to do
22 this; right?, I want to be a nurse, I want to be
23 so-and-so, I need to advocate for my own learning, but
24 I always felt like it's been kind of a hassle. And I
25 kind of felt bad, like maybe people think I'm taking
1 time away from their learning, or, you know, I'm
2 slowing the class down with the discussion, or I'm
3 just in the way what I want to put closed captioning
4 on the video, and some people don't know that I'm the
5 hard-of-hearing person in the class, and they might
6 said -- I've heard them say it, like, that it gets in
7 the way of seeing the video. So, I don't know, my
8 question is, like, are we really disrupting your
9 learning? Like, I would feel bad about that, but, you
10 know, that was my question.
11 MONICA [HOST]: You know, personally I feel like most
12 people who don't require accommodations for class,
13 like special seating or transcribers or captions like
14 you mentioned have no idea or never consciously
15 thought about what kind of difficulties that certain
16 students who need them go through to try, and they
17 have to advocate for themselves and their needs. So
18 for myself as well, prior to joining the Accessibility
19 Collective, I never actually worked with people who
20 are hard-of-hearing, on a project or initiative
21 before. So things that you, Nicole have brought up,
22 like turning on the camera during meetings to see who
23 is talking or using captions, I just never consciously
24 thought about it before. I don't think it's a hassle,
25 it's just a new way of doing things; right? So for
1 most people, things like this are probably unfamiliar
2 to them, so we definitely need to increase awareness
3 through initiatives like Alexa...so that everyone can
4 better understand what these accommodations are, and
5 even get to know each other and their diverse
6 abilities better, to decrease and get rid of any
7 distinct stigma. Because I feel like to be
8 discriminated against for something that, you know,
9 you can't even control, it's just such a shame. And I
10 definitely condemn all kinds of behaviour like that.
11 So -- and I've worked with most of you for over half a
12 year now, and because of this experience, I can say
13 that at no point did I ever feel that an accommodation
14 was a hassle to work with; right?, just a new way of
15 doing things.
16 Another point, I don't believe advocating for
17 yourself and your needs should count as disrupting the
18 learning of other classmates. Personally I would only
19 consider something as disrupting the learning if it
20 causes the professor to not be able to lecture
21 properly, like interrupting the class without a
22 reasonable cause. I'm sure we've all had group
23 members in group projects who have ghosted the group
24 up until the very last minute, and that is definitely
25 a disruption. So I think everyone would agree that
1 other things I mentioned would not be counted as a
3 For example, giving up a seat at the front of
4 the class to someone who openly communicates that they
5 need it I don't think is a disruption. And lastly, I
6 think advocating for your needs isn't something that
7 anyone should feel ashamed or embarrassed about,
8 because these are accommodations are necessary to give
9 you the same learning opportunities as students
10 without accommodations.
11 And from the perspective of someone who doesn't
12 need accommodations, I wouldn't feel comfortable
13 acting for, like, giving someone I don't know a seat
14 at the front unprompted, because I would personally
15 never want to assume that someone can't do something
16 or is unable to do something. So as an example, I was
17 part of a collaboration event for Vision Health last
18 year. And a speaker, who is actually blind, came and
19 demonstrated to us how some people will, you know,
20 unprompted, go up on the street and try to help him
21 walk when he doesn't actually need help, and this
22 individual actually knows martial arts, so he
23 demonstrated to us what a person might experience
24 getting their arm locked behind their back, if they
25 try and help him unprompted. So in this regard to our
1 listeners, I think that having open communication on
2 both sides, advocating for yourself, and striving to
3 be cognizant of our biases and to approach everything
4 with an open-minded attitude are all really important
5 concepts to keep in mind going forward.
6 NICOLE [INTERVIEWER]: Thank you so much, Monica for kind
7 of verifying my assumptions, and also reassuring me,
8 and I think many others who are kind of struggling
9 with these insecurities, you know, and it's -- it was
10 a really well-said message. Thank you for that.
11 On that note, I would like to thank everyone
12 today for taking part in this really important topic,
13 accessible education doing theories difficult COVID
15 MONICA [HOST]: And that wraps up our show for today. I
16 hope you enjoyed it. And for the students,
17 professors, and everyone involved with online classes,
18 you know, good look with this first, and all the very
19 best to you all. I guess we'll see what happens in
20 the fall when accessibility is concerned with online
21 classes, so stay tuned for All Access Pass for more
22 reports for this in the upcoming months.
23 NICOLE [INTERVIEWER]: And if you're interested in joining
24 the team or think there's an issue that we should
25 bring up on the show, please send us an e-mail at
1 Accessibility Collective@CiTR.ca.
2 GURA [INTERVIEWER]: Again, a special thanks to
3 Alexandria, to Dianne, to Bowen Tang, Jessie and
4 Catherine Siegler for chatting with us today.
5 MONICA [HOST]: And thank you to all of our listener for
6 listening and hanging out with us this summer during
7 the pandemic, this is our last show for the season,
8 but don't worry, Season 6 of All Access Pass will be
9 making its rounds very soon.
10 SPEAKER: Please like our All Access page, Facebook, and
11 check out the latest updates on the shows and more.
12 NICOLE [INTERVIEWER]: If you're on Twitter or Instagram
13 or both, please follow us at @access_citr.
14 GURA [INTERVIEWER]: Right. And if you missed part of our
15 live show today and want to listen again, or maybe you
16 want to listen to our past shows you can do so on
17 CiTR.ca by going into our search box and typing in All
18 Access Pass, and you can catch all our episodes.
19 MONICA [HOST]: And thank you everyone for listening.
20 Stick around for more CiTR programming coming up next.
21 Bye everyone!
23 C. R. Siegler, RPR, CRR, CRC (principal)
24 Accurate Realtime Reporting Inc. (604) 685-6050
25 Uncertified (Draft) Verbatim Transcript (