Interact-AS – Candidacy for Students

Who should decide whether a student is a candidate for Interact-AS?

A team that knows the student’s capabilities and daily performance. Americans with Disabilities Act policy clarification of 2014 specifies that schools ensure that communication is AS EFFECTIVE for students with hearing loss as it is for peers so that they have the same opportunity to obtain the SAME result, gain the SAME benefit, or to reach the SAME level of achievement. Decisions about what may be the most appropriate accommodations for a student to access classroom instruction are made through discussion with a team of people who are familiar with the student.

The school team’s responsibility:

  • The school team should ask: Does the student with hearing loss have the capability to progress in the regular education setting? Is the student currently not able to perform to his/her ability due to reduced access verbal communication (the ‘listening gap’)?
  • If so, then the school team, must consider what accommodations, including technology, may be appropriate for the student to maximize his access and therefore his ability to learn in the regular classroom.

How can students keep up with listening and reading the text?

On average, people talk at 125 words per minute. This rate typically slows down to about 100 words per minute when a speaker is in front of an audience, like a classroom teacher. However, people normally think at 400-600 words per minute and the average high-school student processes speech at a rate of about 140-145 words per minute. This means that a student listening to a teacher classroom has time to glance down, read a few words, and return to watching/listening and still will have the cognitive resources to process what was said and think about it’s meaning. As long as the speech-to-text support follows within 1-2 seconds, it can accommodate when students are missing or misunderstanding some of the teacher’s speech.

What do we know about student skill level and future success with speech-to-text translation?

No evidence base exists regarding how well a student must read to benefit from speech-to-text accommodations. What we do know is that children who are provided with more opportunities to read become more fluent readers. With end-of-year oral reading fluency goals (DIBELS) of grade 3 = >110 wpm; grade 4 = >118 wpm; grade 5 = >124; and grade 6 = >125, a student may have the reading ability to benefit from “glancing down and catching a missed word” even in grade 3, but will NOT have the reading fluency to keep up with speech-to-text translation as their only access to verbal instruction until grade 5 or higher.

The use of the Interact-AS is primarily focused on students who are able to listen and speechread the teacher to understand much of verbal instruction, have language abilities commensurate with grade peers, but who need to have an additional accommodation to access words, phrases or new concepts that were missed as the teacher instructs. Interact-AS realtime speech-to-text translation is probably not an appropriate accommodation for students with sizable language, learning or reading delays as compared to class peers. See the Speech-to-Text Readiness Checklist for more considerations. Like most accommodations, we don’t really know the level of success until the student has a chance to process verbal instruction and perform in the classroom with the mediated communication accommodation in use.

Student Motivation is IMPORTANT

Students need to be willing to have a computer or media tablet on their desk everyday and be interested in using this technology-based accommodation. Captioning is not perfect. Interact-AS captioning accuracy can be higher than 95% or lower than 90%, primarily based on the speaking style of the teacher and how consistently the microphone is worn next to the mouth. The student needs to have the maturity and language sophistication to be able to ignore imperfectly captioned words or to use the phonetic basis of the word provided within the context of the surrounding message.We do not know who will benefit and to what degree until the accommodation can be tried, data gathered and improvements in functionality, if any, are identified.

What about students who use FM systems?

There are 3 main options for using Interact-AS and an additional possibility. A student’s own FM transmitter can be used only if the teacher wears two microphones (one for captioning, one for FM). There is an option that uses the captioning microphone as the input for both captioning and FM and integrates the student’s FM receiver. We never want to replace FM with captioning if the student is finding the FM accommodation beneficial. More information on set-up options.

What about using Interact-AS for students who are deaf?

Student access to instruction and communication in the classroom needs to be tailored to each student’s individual needs and abilities. Speech-to-text will not provide the same access as a sign language interpreter for students who are native ASL communicators. For students with good reading skills and some useful hearing ability, a speech-to-text option may be an effective means of accessing instruction for those students who may want to experience independence from the interpreter or for those who may have lost all hearing (i.e., newly cochlear implanted after progressive or sudden hearing loss). If interpreter services are in short supply there may be some situations when a student could rely on the Interact-AS for less language-heavy classes, again only as individual skills allow. Furthermore, the Interact-AS is able to provide personalized speech generation for students with difficult to understand speech articulation. There is also a complete hands-free interface for students with limited keyboard skills, and the ability to add personalized terms and vocabulary for simpler use as a medium of expressive language. These features can be tailored to empower the student with ‘deaf speech’ or who does not communicate with oral language to contribute to classroom discussions.

Suggestions for specific information for school teams to consider include:

Refer to the Speech-to-Text Readiness Checklist

  • The student’s skill level: oral reading fluency; reading comprehension level, listening comprehension level; receptive language level; word understanding with
    listening only versus listening plus speechreading.
  • The student’s performance in the classroom: relative performance compared to class peers: distractibility; ability to focus; responsibility for hearing devices; peer relationships and sensitivity to peer attention.
  • Classroom readiness to use Interact-AS: (these considerations will not apply to a determination of candidacy but should be considered as the school team discusses how to support use/trial of the Interact-AS for optimal success) teacher experience wearing a microphone and openness to technology; experience using FM and passing microphone appropriately during class discussion; availability of computer technology; level of peer group acceptance of the student with hearing loss.

Questions about Interact-AS? Contact Mike Massine at interactassupport@successforkidswithhearingloss.com or 888-963-8991.