It’s the most wonderful time of year…back to school is almost here! Whether it’s your first year on a post-secondary campus or you’re a seasoned veteran….there are some tips for getting ready for a successful school year for hard of hearing and Deaf post-secondary students in British Columbia.
Get connected with your support network
An excellent resource is ACE-BC (Academic Communication Equity – BC. They have a lot of detailed information on navigating post-secondary successfully as a Deaf, deafened, hard of hearing, or deaf-blind student. ACE-BC | Equal access through inclusive learning
Set up a meeting with an advisor at the Accessibility Resource Centre on your campus (each post-secondary institution uses a slightly different name for these services but if you do an online search for your school + accessibility you should be able to locate the centre). Your advisor can assist you in navigating funding options where available, accessibility, technology and communicating with your instructors amongst many other things.
Money, money, money…
If you haven’t applied for a student loan yet, there is no time like the present! If you are eligible, you will then receive various grants, bursaries and funding (some of it is money in your pocket, some of it will go towards paying off the loan and some of it will go towards technology or classroom/learning supports). SABC home page | StudentAid BC has all the information you will need to get started.
IMPORTANT: on the student loan application there is a statement that says – “I have a disability”. You must tick this box. You will need to provide other documentation (see information about the Appendix 8 form in the next section of this article) but once the supporting documentation is provided then you will automatically be eligible for some of these grants and bursaries (no extra applications – yay!)
But who doesn’t love filling out forms?
You will have to submit an Appendix 8 (available to download on the Form library | StudentAid BC) in order to access services, grants, bursaries, funding and technology. Section 4 will need to be completed by your audiologist. You may need to have another hearing assessment if your most recent test was completed more than 3 years ago.
Time to stock up
You’ll need to go shopping for the usual school supplies, so while you are at it, this is a good time to take inventory of your hearing health and communication needs.
- This is a good time to book a clean and check appointment with your audiologist to ensure your hearing aids are in proper working condition.
- Are your earmolds fitting well? How are the tubes?
- Do you have enough batteries? Do you have spare batteries in your backpack?
- Do you need any: cleaning supplies, domes, wax guards, mic covers, desiccant packs?
- Have you charged up your: remote mic, accessories, and/or assistive listening system?
- Do a listening check of your hearing aid remote mic, Phonak Roger™, Oticon Edumic™ or FM system to ensure optimal function.
Is your alarm clock generally your parent shaking you awake? Might be time to consider a vibrating or flashing alarm clock. ALDS https://alds.com) carries a variety of alarm clocks and other signalling devices
Is this your first time living away from home? Do you have a safety plan? Are you able to hear alarms like smoke detectors? If you are Deaf or if you are hard of hearing and remove your hearing aids at night to sleep, do you have a roommate, floor supervisor or building manager that is aware and can make sure you are safe in the event of a fire? There are alerting devices available for smoke detectors (https://alds.com)
Do some ‘recon’
A little pre-emptive reconnaissance before your first day of classes is a great way to familiarize yourself with the campus, the location of your classrooms, and how long it takes to get between classes. In some cases, you may even be able to go in the classroom to get a sense of where you may want to try to sit for good visibility of your instructor (for lip-reading purposes), where the captioning system may be set up (if captioning services are being provided), and acoustics of the classroom etc. Contact enrollment services or possibly the Accessibility Centre on your campus and book a tour. Remember, if you are using a remote mic system like the Phonak Roger™ or the Oticon Edumic™, you may need to give yourself a few extra minutes of travel time to give the mic to your instructor and then retrieve it at the end of the class. If timing is too tight to do those tasks and get to your next class, you may still have time to rearrange your class schedule.
Get some sleep!
Communication with hearing loss can be exhausting. It requires more mental effort and focus. Be aware of your needs, be protective of your sleep and take breaks where you can.
Assistive Technology BC (AT-BC) Assistive Technology BC (ATBC) provides assistive technology resources to make learning environments usable for people with disabilities throughout British Columbia. Assistive Technology BC | Home (at-bc.ca) Centre for Accessible Post-Secondary Education Resources: CAPER-BC | Centre for Accessible Post-secondary Education Resources in BC (caperbc.ca)