A. Secara, D.I. Ciobanu

University of Leeds (UNITED KINGDOM)
We will present the results of a recent project carried out in the University of Leeds (UoL) Centre for Translation Studies (CTS), which tested an innovative approach for providing live and interactive access to lectures for deaf and hard-of-hearing, as well as international students. More specifically, the project investigated the ideal combination of different technologies for the successful provision of live and interactive access to lectures. It also explored the extent to which same language subtitling (SLS), a service usually provided for hard-of-hearing users, enhances the experience of international students.

Research carried out over the last twenty five years clearly demonstrates the benefits that SLS has on word acquisition, comprehension, literacy skills and academic skills when used by foreign language learners in language classes (Danan, 2004, Garza, 1991, Vanderplank, 1988, 1993). Using these findings as the basis for our project, we set out to explore the potential of SLS outside foreign language classes. Could SLS be used to enhance the learning experience of international students in a UK university context while, at the same time, provide suitable access for hard-of-hearing students?

The approach we implemented was the result of consultation with the Equality Services at the UoL, note takers, captioners, as well as international and hard-of-hearing students. It consisted of combining a range of technologies and skills which included Adobe Acrobat Connect Pro for live lecture capture, Dragon Naturally Speaking for live SLS, and live note taking using UoL trained note-takers. The integration of all the lecture sources of information - the PowerPoint Presentation lecturers used when delivering their lectures live, the audio and video feed, the live subtitles and the live note-taking - into one screen within the Adobe Connect platform area allowed uninterrupted live access to the lecture for all students. One hard-of-hearing student, present in the lecture theatre, used a laptop to access this platform, but small portable devices such as tablets and smartphones were also tested. Most international students accessed the session recordings after the lectures via the UoL Virtual Learning Environment Platform.

In addition to a demo of the technology used, this presentation will also include an analysis of the statistics regarding access to the resources by the students as well as the results of a questionnaire distributed at the end of the project investigating perceived advantages and disadvantages of our approach. These results echoed existing research in which SLS resources were perceived as successfully serving different learning styles (visual vs auditory), they were used as a priming device, drawing attention to concepts not known (Vanderplank, 2012), and they were seen as leading to enhancement of comprehension through double exposure (Kruger, 2012). We will also draw conclusions regarding the potential of SLS for enhancing the international students’ learning experience in both live learning scenarios and for revision purposes.