University of Edinburgh

Deaf Students in Scottish Higher Education

Chapter Thirteen: Conclusions and Recommendations

Models of provision

The generic versus specific model

The overall approach to participation of deaf students within HE in Scotland is a generic one: in other words, deaf students are seen as belonging to an over-arching category of students, variously labelled as having a ‘disability’; ‘additional needs’ (in the parlance of the new Act relating to school pupils); ‘extended learning needs’ or ‘special educational needs’. Deaf students’ requirements are rarely directly framed in terms of ‘rights’ or ‘entitlement’, although individual HEIs may use these terms in some of their literature. Indeed, the broader policy framework, while predominantly adopting a special needs approach, does also refer to the individual’s right to participate in education and lifelong learning:

"The Executive is committed to securing equal opportunities for all and eliminating discrimination and prejudice in our society. Uneven access to lifelong learning can entrench inequality. We are promoting the mainstreaming of equality in the development of policy and the shaping of legislation. Our approach to lifelong learning is no exception in this regard."
(Scottish Executive 2003a)

However, the funding which deaf students make use of to enable them to access HE fully is presented within a disability framework, that is, explicitly the Disabled Student’s Allowance. There are even issues about what constitutes ‘disability’ or ‘additional needs’ in the assessment of an individual’s eligibility for DSA. The Scottish Executive, SHEFC (now SFHEFC) and individual HEIs all use these labels. Thus, even though the recent ASL Act (Scottish Executive, 2004a) explicitly moves away from SEN within the context of school pupils, the term continues to be used within HE.

It should be noted that research on disabled students in HE within the UK has also drawn attention to the problem of labelling:

"The label ‘disabled’ which students must adopt to qualify for the Disabled Students Allowance, and the protection of the law, did not sit easily with many students’ self concept. This may prove a barrier to equality legislation in this area."
(Tinklin et al 2004, p3)

The argument here is not about labelling in a superficial sense. Rather it is suggested that exploiting such labels can mask the essentially linguistic nature of appropriate access provision. It is therefore suggested that HEIs — and SHEFC (now SFHEFC) — should consider separating out the requirements of different categories of students. The evidence from UK universities, and from abroad, suggests that an approach which is more directly focused on deaf students in HEIs is required. The model of the University of Wolverhampton, which has established a Student Enabling Centre for three clearly identified groups: Deaf Students, Dyslexic Students and Disabled Students, is one which could usefully be considered by Scottish HEIs.

The ‘support’ model versus the ‘access’ model

In Chapter Four, attention was drawn to the tension between the notions of ‘support’ and ‘access’. The conceptualising of deaf students in terms of ‘support needs’ is encouraged by the discourse of some policy frameworks and guidelines. Indeed, this tension can be seen as part of the generic versus specific approach discussed above.

The proposal here is that a critical distinction is made between the two. If appropriate linguistic access is in place, then educational support can be provided in the same way as for any other student. It is not suggested that individual deaf people may not require particular approaches to teaching and learning: just like other students they will have varying strengths and weaknesses.

Model of participation

The evidence within this report also reveals a basic tension between choice and equality of opportunity in relation to delivery. It could be argued that deaf students should have the same range of choice with respect to courses and institutions as any other students. However, it is also the case that where institutions have a policy of encouraging deaf students as a coherent student group, or even community, there can be major advantages for the students. These include:

  • better social integration;
  • support from deaf as well as hearing peers;
  • deaf role models;
  • more integrated and effective access provision;
  • more likelihood of access staff being employed full time and therefore having or developing appropriate qualifications;
  • economies of scale.

The evidence from the testimonies of deaf students and insights from UK institutions suggests that deaf students are able to integrate more fully, not only with other deaf students but also with hearing students, if they have deaf peers. The research team themselves were able to bring together individual deaf people and witness the enthusiasm with which they shared information about their experiences. These advantages point, then, to a more specialist provision for deaf students. However, this report does not recommend that all students should attend the same HEI: this would be inequitable and remove choice too drastically. Nevertheless, the initiatives in England, funded by HEFCE, encouraging the development of Deaf Studies and BSL courses have clearly worked to attract deaf students into the system and into particular institutions. It is worth stressing that it is not only BSL-using deaf people who are recruited, although their numbers have certainly increased. Rather, the whole spectrum of deaf people is attracted to universities where deaf interests and culture have a visibility and status and where there is accompanying good access provision. It is therefore proposed that specific funding be made available to support such developments. This would also have a positive effect in terms of developing courses of study which are, in any case, much needed if both deaf and hearing people are to be attracted to deaf-related professions such as teaching deaf children and BSL/English interpreting. This type of approach would still leave the choice to the individual student: in England, there are higher numbers of deaf students at all of the universities offering deaf-related courses. However, individual deaf students do still choose to attend other HEIs; the choice is theirs.

National versus local provision

Part of the remit of this project was to recommend what central support/resource could be most usefully provided for institutions. Any centralised development will need to build on and link in with existing localised provision within HEIs. However, a more strategic, national approach is also required. There has been plenty of evidence within this report that despite much individual effort and some good practice, the overall situation of deaf people within HE does not match either their rights or expectations, while provision of both access and support is highly variable across, and even within, institutions. Nor does the overall situation match the requirements of recent legislation. The major initiative suggested with the establishment of a national Centre for Linguistic Access, along with the additional specific recommendations, could transform the HE experience for deaf students and bring many more into the system. Those considering these recommendations are asked to keep in mind the testimonies of deaf people themselves, as documented throughout this report.

Many of the specific recommendations in this report complement those of other projects, particularly the Teachability, Head Start and JUDE projects as well as the recommendations in the SASLI document Creating Linguistic Access for Deaf and Deafblind People: A Strategy for Scotland (Brennan et al, 2002). Regrettably, as can be seen from the preceding pages, the data collected by the Deaf Students in Scottish Higher Education project reveal that while there has been some progress in some HEIs, the general picture in terms of the participation of deaf students within HE remains problematic. The lack of a coherent, unified Scottish programme to ensure access for deaf people means that the recruitment and participation of deaf students relies on the hard work and goodwill of individuals. In this respect, there are clear examples of individuals ‘making a difference’ and putting in place systems aimed at enabling more adequate access. However, in almost all cases such attempts are undermined by realities at a broader, national level, particularly in terms of shortages of key access staff and resources.

List of Recommendations

Part 1. Summary of recommendations as listed in individual chapters

The study

Chapter 1. Deaf Student Numbers and Study Sample

Analysing Error in the Calculated Participation Rates of Deaf Students

1.1 Further study should aim to identify error in the relationship between prevalence of deafness and the incidence of deaf students among the HE student population, in order to arrive at a reliable estimate of an equitable rate of participation.

1.2 Closer liaison between schools/services for deaf pupils and HEIs will assist in enabling ongoing estimation of future numbers of applications from deaf students.

1.3 It would be of interest to study access figures for FE as well as HE.

1.4 The interaction between HE participation and prior placement in compulsory education should be investigated further lest inappropriate conclusions be drawn, for example in relation to the effects of educational inclusion on HE participation rates.

The policy and practice

Chapter 4. Policy, Legislation and Initiatives

The Establishment of a Centre for Linguistic Access

4.1 The Scottish Parliament and Scottish Executive should work towards integration of linguistic rights for deaf people within a linguistic framework of access arrangements, moving away from a disability framework of special educational needs and extended learning.

4.2 A nationally consistent infrastructure of HE access arrangements for deaf students should be based on ‘top-down’ longer term strategic commitments, rather than be based on ‘bottom-up’ short term project-based solutions.

4.3 There is a need to bring together certain core activities, which can help to provide a stronger infrastructure to support deaf students in particular institutions. A single central resource and training centre, the Centre for Linguistic Access should be established. Ideally this would be part of the Centre for Deaf Studies as recommended by the SASLI Working Party (Brennan et al, 2002), although it could have a separate existence. However, given the links between the different types of initiative required, it would be better for this work to be fully integrated into a Centre for Deaf Studies. The Centre for Linguistic Access would act as a ‘powerhouse’ for creating and supporting a radical shift in the access systems in place for deaf students in tertiary education. It may well be appropriate for such a Centre to have a dual FE/HE focus, given the overlap recognised within this report: this would also involve collaboration with existing groups, such as the BRITE Centre. Given that there is a parallel need for such resources within primary, secondary and FE as well as in HE, combined funding should be made available for the development of the Centre for Linguistic Access to service access requirements at all of these levels. The establishment of a Centre for Linguistic Access would enable the requirements of deaf students to be conceptualised in terms of linguistic choice and preferences, rather than in terms of ‘special needs’.

4.4 Specific core funding should be allocated for the establishment of such a Centre and for running costs. There are precedents for making focused funding available for such a Centre. The BRITE Centre initiative, for example, received specific funding three years after the publication of the Beattie report (1999). This Centre is playing an important role in making FE accessible to a range of students in FE. At the opening of the Centre in 2002, Iain Gray, the then Minister for Enterprise, Transport and Lifelong Learning, announced that £22.6 million had been allocated from April 2001 to March 2004 to implement the recommendations of the Beattie report: “£4.5 million of that funding was allocated specifically to support students in further education and a significant proportion of that has been used to establish the Centre” (Iain Gray, Minister of Enterprise, Transport and Lifelong Learning, September, 2002). It is suggested here that a similar injection of capital funding is required to ensure full participation of deaf students in HE. The SASLI report (Brennan et al, 2002) recommended the establishment of a Centre for Deaf Studies to take forward a range of initiatives which could contribute towards genuine linguistic access for deaf people in a range of contexts. HE is only one of these contexts, but if the same kind of funding were to be made available in relation to deaf people as has been made available for the BRITE Centre initiative, then the situation of deaf students could be transformed.

4.5 The Centre for Linguistic Access should be responsible for the development and application of agreed Quality Indicators (QIs) for the whole ‘assessment’ process and in relation to access provision (eg; interpreters, notetakers etc). These would be supplementary to the generic ‘Toolkit’ for DSA-related assessments (see chapter 7). There should be regular auditing of provision.

4.6 Residential one-week summer courses for aspiring and first year deaf HE students should be hosted within Scotland, to aid networking and level students’ awareness of support and access arrangements.

Chapter 5. Funding

5.1 SAAS should widen the eligibility for DSA to include all those groups who have access requirements, but are presently excluded.

5.2 Information on eligibility for DSA should be provided in clear, accessible formats, and made available to all applicants.

5.3 SHEFC (now SFHEFC) should introduce a system of calculating Disabled Students Premium which takes into account the larger group of students who would benefit from specific access arrangements.

5.4 HEIs should be encouraged to devolve decisions on Disabled Students Premium spending priorities to their Disability Offices

5.5 DSA funding should be made available for support during vacations.

5.6 Instead of the current DSA ceiling, the allowance should cover the costs appropriate to the provision of access to individual deaf students.

5.7 The recently-established working group ‘Working towards Best Practice in Linguistic Access for Deaf Students’ should be encouraged to consider creative solutions to the pan-Scottish funding challenges involved, pending the establishment of the proposed Centre for Linguistic Access.

5.8 DSA funding should specifically be made available for subjectspecific linguistic support for students whose English is an additional or late acquired language.

Chapter 6. Admissions and professional training courses

6.1 HEIs should accept deaf students on an equal basis to other students and in line with SENDA legislation. This is likely to increase the level of access/support services required within individual institutions, and thus have knock-on implications for DSA funding at a national level and for the need to train more access personnel.

6.2 HEIs should liaise with organisations most involved with deaf people when making decisions about whether deafness would prevent a deaf student from fulfilling professional ‘fitness for practice’.

6.3 All postgraduate students should be eligible for DSA, including those on part-time modular courses, such as those which train teachers to become specialised teachers of deaf children.

6.4 Where courses require placements or traineeships, the HEI Disability Office should liaise with the placement/traineeship provider and the deaf student about the level of support to be provided for this, and consider whether local Deaf Awareness training should be offered in advance.

Chapter 7. The assessment process

7.1 Clarification of access requirements should be made as early as possible and initial provision established by the beginning of the course.

7.2 A supplementary set of quality indicators and exemplars needs to be developed for DSA assessment of deaf students, in co-operation with BRITE, and a procedure established for their implementation. The format would include adequate reference to language choices and the broad range of linguistic access strategies available. The NATED pack could be used as a starting point for development, and the NATED network fully exploited.

7.3 Clarification of access requirements should be seen as an ongoing process and individuals should have the right to opt in and out of different types of access depending on their experiences of the usefulness of the provision. The assessment stages built into the NATED pack could be exploited, in addition to examples of good practice identified in some institutions.

7.4 Assessors for deaf people should be appropriately trained and accredited, co-ordinated centrally by a Centre for Linguistic Access. This training/accreditation process would be progressive and ongoing. The Centre would also provide a focal networking point for all stakeholders with an interest in assessment of deaf students, including deaf students themselves.

7.5 In the meanwhile, the ‘Working Towards Best Practice in Linguistic Access for d/Deaf Students’ group should be consulted about developing the supplementary indicators and exemplars, in cooperation with NATED and BRITE. It is understood that the group is interested in expanding NATED membership in Scotland.

7.6 Students should never have to pay for assessments themselves. The Scottish Executive should consider establishing a system for bearing costs where they are not already met, so that students are not financially deterred from applying.

Chapter 8. Transitions

8.1 A national audiological resource centre (ideally incorporated into the proposed Centre for Linguistic Access) should be established — as was recommended by SCoD to the Cross Party Group on Deafness — in order to provide/loan equipment, carry out assessments and provide consultancy to all relevant individuals, agencies and institutions.

8.2 This centre should also complement national developments in the transition between paediatric and adult audiology services, by delivering expertise and practical support in advance of transitions between school, FE and HE.

8.3 Tutorial support in English language skills should be available to deaf students (see recommendations 3.8 and 12.10 below).

8.4 A centralised, integrated Access Course should be designed which could partly be delivered in the student’s own FE/HE context, but which would also have components delivered to all deaf students in a single location at one time. This would allow peer support, access to deaf role models, provision of a good practice model of access, opportunities for students to familiarise themselves with different strategies, to try out new technology etc. Given that the UCLAN initiative was funded by HEFCE, it would be appropriate for targeted SHEFC (now SFHEFC) funding to be used to establish an equivalent course within Scotland. The proposed Centre should work with FE and HE institutions, Deaf organisations (such as SCoD, NDCS and BDA) and those who have expertise in working with deaf people (such as SSC, Deaf Action, Deaf Connections etc) to make this course as effective as possible. Courses in other HEIs in the UK, such as the Year Zero for Deaf Students at UCLAN, should be seen as providing insights into these developments.

8.5 There should be an annual a residential week for deaf and hard of hearing students. The students would include both those who are already at an HEI, those who have been accepted and those who are thinking of applying. This would enable deaf young people to act as role models and mentors. The residential week would include presentations from HEI teaching and access staff, as well as presentations from students on areas of interest chosen by them. This could also include non-academic interests, such as sports clubs etc. Deaf students should be given a key role in the organisation, but with financial and administrative support. This could link in with part of the Access Course mentioned above. The residential weeks offered through the second phase of the HeadStart programme in England could be used as a model and links made with the HeadStart initiative (See Chapter Three).

8.6 The Centre for Linguistic Access should coordinate links between HEIs, FECs and schools and educational services for deaf children and young people with a view to establishing more adequate preparation of deaf young people for participating in tertiary education. Some very good examples of links already exist and these should be highlighted and built on. However, the evidence of this report is that many young deaf people enter tertiary education with limited knowledge and information about the access provision which might be available. A national Scottish approach to this issue needs to be encouraged. See also recommendations 1.1 and 11.5 which aim at, respectively, closer liaison between schools and HEIs and the need for new students, in advance of the start of their course, to have opportunities to familiarise themselves with access and support services which will potentially be available to them.

Chapter 9. Health and Safety

9.1 HE institutions should formulate explicit strategies for including the access deaf students have to alarm systems and signals; they should consult with deaf students as part of their regular monitoring of processes and systems, and address concerns that may be outstanding among their deaf students within a stated time-frame. These issues should also be addressed where a course includes field trips, residentials etc.

9.2 Steps should be taken to ensure that every deaf student has access to a personal pager which will operate as a fire-alarm. Flashing lights should also be used in key areas.

9.3 In order to ensure the individual’s own safety as well as improving working conditions and independence, other appropriate equipment, such as video phones and text telephones should be made available to deaf students, such as PhD students, who have room allocations within HEIs.

9.4 Video entry systems should be used for key buildings which have intercom entry systems. The experience

Chapter 10. Deaf perspectives

10.1 The experiences and perspectives of deaf students and exstudents should play a key role in developing policy and practice in providing access to HE for deaf students.

10.2 Deaf people remain an under-represented group within the student body and amongst academic staff and support staff. Action plans should include explicit targets with respect to the inclusion of deaf people. There should be a major initiative to involve deaf people in all aspects of provision, including as advisors.

10.3 Deaf role models should be employed so that deaf students can learn from others: for example within student services as liaison workers with deaf students. A network of support to new students from former students should be facilitated by the proposed Centre for Linguistic Access.

Chapter 11. Deaf Awareness

11.1 The access infrastructure of institutions should include regularly scheduled Deaf Awareness training opportunities for staff (academic and non-academic).

11.2 Nationally recognised Deaf Awareness courses, such as those examined by CACDP, can provide a basic introduction for all staff. The proposed Centre for Linguistic Access should take on the role of developing new Deaf Awareness curricula and materials which are specifically geared to FE and HE situations.

11.3 The Centre for Linguistic Access should provide a resource base for Deaf Awareness training. A ‘training the trainers’ programme could be delivered to build local capacities, particularly focusing on deaf trainers.

11.4 Training geared to the specific linguistic access requirements of a new student should be compulsory for staff who will come into contact with that student (including clerical, catering staff etc). Key lecturing staff should also be made aware of any need for additional tutorial support relating to subject-specific vocabulary and English language generally. Where possible, this will be done in collaboration with the new student him/herself.

11.5 Opportunities should be provided for new students to familiarise themselves with access/support arrangements at the institution before starting their course.

Chapter 12. Linguistic Access

12.1 There should be further research into the potential demand for lipspeakers and for lipreading tuition among deaf students.

12.2 Speech therapy services should be made available for students who would find this beneficial.

12.3 The Scottish Executive should set new student-number targets for sharply increasing national uptake on BSL/English interpreting courses. This should also include the embedding of HE-level courses for the training of BSL tutors — who are required for the training of interpreters — such as the Graduate Diploma in Teaching British Sign Language Tutors starting at Heriot Watt University.

12.4 The Scottish Executive and SHEFC (now SFHEFC) should consult on the establishment of HE degree programmes in BSL and/or Deaf Studies in Scotland (as have been established in England) to greatly expand the future availability of suitably trained access and support staff, including interpreters, bilingual professionals, and note-takers.

12.5 There should be clear clarification of the roles of all access staff: training and qualifications should fit these roles. In particular, this report reiterates Recommendation 11.4 of Brien, Brown and Collins (2004) that: It is necessary to distinguish clearly between professionals who provide ‘communication support’ for deaf students, eg Communication Support Workers) and those who provide language services based on the deaf student’s competence in a particular language (eg; BSL/English interpreters, lipspeakers etc). (Brien, Brown and Collins 2004, p.27)

12.6 There should be wider use of electronic notetaking. More creative approaches to electronic notetaking should be adopted, for example, notes could be projected for the whole class, thus removing the ‘special needs’ connotations linked with individual students. It might also be possible to make CDs of the notes available for purchase: these can currently be supplied to participants who use electronic note-taking provision. These proposals might raise issues for lecturing staff, but guidelines could be developed for use and exchange of the notes: individuals may need to sign up to a contract of use.

12.7 More training in professional notetaking (both electronic and manual) should be made available. Past students of specific subject areas should be targeted for recruitment to training courses.

12.8 The use of support staff trained to ‘Communication Support Work’ standards for providing BSL/English interpretation should be discouraged, in favour of qualified and registered BSL/English interpreters.

12.9 The Centre for Linguisitic Access should provide core training for some access staff (eg; notetakers, lip-reading tutors etc) and additional training and educational opportunities for others (eg; BSL/English interpreters). Such opportunities might include specialist courses in educational interpreting.

12.10 There is a need for specialist tutorial support to be available to deaf students who wish to improve their skills in English literacy. Suitably qualified staff should provide such support in collaboration with the student and with relevant subject specialists. Tutors should possess: a teaching qualification; subject knowledge; a high level of English grammar; fluent BSL (where a student’s first language is BSL); knowledge of language development and knowledge of the educational experiences of deaf learners. See also recommendations 5.8 and 8.3 above.

12.11 The Centre for Linguistic Access should provide training and accreditation for Support Tutors as described in12.10 above.

Part 2. Additional recommendations

Training and qualifications

13.1 There should be a clear distinction between linguistic access arrangements and strategies to support teaching and learning more generally. These latter should be undertaken by educational staff, who themselves have appropriate education and qualifications. (see recommendations 5.8; 8.3; 12.9 for specific details)

13.2 In order to nurture the continuing professional development (CPD) of staff, opportunities should be made available to access professionals, and expectations of completed CPD and targets built into contracts. Such a strategy can enable those who are currently not qualified to the appropriate standards to be assisted in achieving such standards within a set time. Insights from the UCLAN developments should be recognised and appropriate employment packages developed for notetakers, BSL/English interpreters, lipspeakers etc.

13.3 A clear target date should be set for ensuring that all access staff in HE have appropriate qualifications. There should be a rapid Deaf Students in Scottish Higher Education | page 193–204 phasing out of acceptance of low-level skills, particularly the BSL Stage Two skills for ‘BSL/English interpreters’. SHEFC (now SFHEFC) should work with the Scottish Executive and the Scottish Council on Deafness to develop specific pathways for key access staff: this cannot be achieved without funding.

13.4 A rolling programme of staff monitoring and continuing professional development should be available for qualified staff. This will enable them to up-date their skills and develop their careers. See also the following list of recommendations, which fall under the heading of training and qualifications: Training of assessors/facilitators: 7.2 Training of access personnel: 12.9 Training of Support Tutors: 12.10 Deaf Awareness training of trainers: 11.3

Information and guidance

14.1 The Centre for Linguistic Access should operate as a centralised resource unit for developing practical resources and providing easily accessible information and guidance, including a deaf student website.

14.2 The Centre for Linguistic Access should be responsible for coordinating the provisions of key information to deaf students.

14.3 All information directed at deaf students from individual HEIs – for example, relating to admissions, funding and access provision, as well as course information – should be made available in BSL as well as in clear English. Information will include a clear flow chart and BSL explanation to illustrate the process of applying to HEIs and ensuring access mechanisms are in place.

14.4 A specific FE/HE website should be developed to encourage participation of deaf students in Scotland. This website would include information in BSL and English and would have contributions from deaf students and staff. Exemplars might include the Deakin University website on Deaf Role Models for Deaf Students ( and the Deaf and Creative website maintained by Direct Learn Services Ltd in the UK ( which includes information on the process of applying to university, different types of funding and support, and case studies of individual deaf people who have been through HE. Currently this website does not include BSL. Exemplars of websites using BSL include SCoD, ADPS and the BDA websites. The proposed website would relate to Scottish HEIs.

Audiological support

15.1 There is variable knowledge about and availability of audiological equipment in HEIs. Up to date information should be more easily available to staff and students. Therefore, the Centre for Linguistic Access should act as resource centre and focus of expertise for specialist audiological equipment, environmental aids and ICT. (see also recommendations 8.1 and 8.2)

15.2 The Centre should operate as a lending unit for some types of equipment, eg; radio aids, as well as co-ordinating a network of lending throughout Scotland. This can be done in collaboration with existing organisations. The Centre would also provide advice and information on new audiological and technical developments. (see also recommendations 8.1 and 8.2)

15.3 HEIs should be moving to installation of loop systems, infrared systems and radio microphones. Where only certain rooms are fully equipped, every effort should be made to timetable these rooms for classes which involve deaf people.

15.4 HEI staff should be fully informed that they are required by SENDA to make use of such equipment if the student requests such use. They cannot, for example, as described by some interviewees, simply choose not to wear a radio microphone.

15.5 Recommendation 10 of the Needs Assessment Report on NHS Audiology Services in Scotland (PHIS, 2003) should be acted upon urgently. This recommendation proposes that: Audiology services should ensure that there is a phased transition to the adult environment from the extensive support in a paediatric service. The transition should be tailored to the special needs of individual young people and should include liaison with education, social work and employment services. (PHIS, 2003) (see also recommendation 8.2)

15.6 There should be a co-ordinated initiative led by the Centre for Linguistic Access to establish appropriate links between HEIs and Audiology Clinics.

Bilingual provision

16.1 There should be increasing development of BSL/English bilingual materials. This has already begun to some extent in relation to primary and secondary education (University of Edinburgh) and in relation to Biotechnology within HE (University of Edinburgh).

16.2 In order to provide deaf BSL-using students with an adequate record of tutorials, the tutorials should be recorded and transcribed. This can give the student a basis on which to work and confidence in the process.

16.3 Information and advice should be available in both BSL and English.

16.4 Course materials on the web and e-learning should be available in BSL and English.

16.5 Similarly, the potential for ‘remote tutoring’ should be explored in this context. Developments such as video interpreting could be exploited where appropriate.


17.1 The use of laptops by deaf students is reasonably widespread. Training should be given to enable students and staff to make more adequate use of this resource.

17.2 The use of digital videotaping of BSL/English interpreters and/or practical presentations should be encouraged (at least one FE college is already doing this): provision for capturing and compressing key sign texts should be developed locally and within the Centre for Linguistic Access.

17.3 HEIs are already making some use of web delivery of course support materials and even components integral to a course. This should become the norm: it is good practice for all students but can have very positive effects for deaf students. This would allow them to access some information prior to courses and prepare more adequately, especially where the material is not in their first language. However, HEI staff should recognise that if all material is only available in English, this may place some deaf students at a disadvantage: therefore, there should be gradual inclusion of BSL material within courses.

17.4 As suggested by the SDT, students should have access to appropriate equipment as soon as possible, and with certain technology well before the course starts, so that they can familiarise themselves with the equipment.

17.5 The Centre for Linguistic Access should also undertake subtitling of videotapes, subtitling of digitised sign movies and the creation of bilingual (BSL and English) resources. Again this will require a specific funding allocation.

Teaching materials

18.1 Academic staff should be encouraged to make greater use of deaf-friendly support materials, including more visually-based handouts, illustrated PowerPoint presentations etc.

18.2 Materials should normally be made available to students and access staff prior to teaching sessions. While this is demanding initially, experience suggests that the whole information culture of an institution can change.

18.3 Subtitling of videos should be the norm. Staff should be made aware that if videotapes are not subtitled then this could lead to discriminatory practice. The proposed Centre could become a resource for such videos.

Staff costs

19.1 The use of qualified personnel means that providers should expect to pay appropriate rates. SHEFC (now SFHEFC) should be informed by recent initiatives in the FE sector (and, in particular, the ‘Working Towards Best Practice in Linguistic Access for d/Deaf Students’ group) which are seeking to establish good practice in respect of payment and employment of access staff.

19.2 HEIs should follow the guidelines provided by professional and accrediting organisations such as the Scottish Association of Sign Language Interpreters (SASLI) and the Council for Advancement of Communication with Deaf People (CACDP) with respect to appropriate rates of pay. Payment of the same rates for nonqualified staff removes the incentive to train.

19.3 Given that there are several different agencies engaged in providing notetaking, interpreting and lipspeaking services, it may be appropriate either to put access provision out to tender or negotiate packages. However, there should be recognition that while exorbitant rates can be avoided, qualified access personnel cannot be provided cheaply.

Creating a critical mass

20.1 Funding should be made available to develop Deaf Studies, Sign Linguistics and other deaf-related courses within HEIs. Such courses do not only contribute to the education and professional development of access professionals, they also encourage ‘communities of deaf students’ to develop in HEIs.

20.2 Support should be available to enable the development of undergraduate courses in BSL and Deaf Studies. Focused funding for this should be made available, either directly from SEED or through SHEFC (now SFHEFC). A precedent for such support can be seen in the commitment of special funding to train audiologists through the additional funding released following the PHIS review of audiology services in Scotland (PHIS, 2003).

20.3 Focused BSL courses for deaf students entering HEI and FE should be developed and delivered. (See also recommendation 8.4)

20.4 BSL and Deaf Studies should be included in training for academic and support staff.

20.5 Deaf Awareness should be included in induction programmes for deaf students. These Deaf Awareness sessions should be delivered by deaf people. National conference

21.1 A national Scottish conference on access for deaf students within HE should be held to discuss the basis of the above recommendations (that is, this report) and the recommendations themselves. Presenters at this conference should include key individuals who have already established good practice, as reported within this account, members of the research team and deaf students and ex-students. This conference should be placed within the SENDA legislation and HEIs and FECs with HE level courses which may attract deaf students should send representatives from all levels. A national conference is seen as essential in bringing together key players, although this does not prevent regional or local seminars also taking place.