Does any one have an experience with a hearing impaired student undertaking an oral defense of graduate thesis? I have a colleague in my graduate program who is profoundly impaired in both ears (to the point that hearing aid is absolutely useless). He would be defending his thesis this coming July or August and concerned that he might be failed if he is unable to communicate well with the examining committee. Does any one have any experience and can advice? My colleague neither signs nor understand sign language. The situation happened recently and he is still trying to adjust. But he speaks quite well and normally, and can talk if asked something he hears and comprehends. And if it helps, the university is in Canada, although I can not find any laws, either Canada's or the University's, dealing with this specific issues. If you are aware of any one who had similar challenges and undertook an oral defense, I will appreciate anything you can share on it. Thanks in advance for your kind response
I think that your friend needs to find a way to get advice to the examiners about things they can do. This should probably come from someone in authority, such as a department head or dean. Even the student's advisor might be a good source of such a reminder, but the administration has to be behind it.
The basic idea is that it should be the responsibility of the person asking the question to make the question clear to the other. The accommodation should be on their part, not that of the candidate here. Make sure that the committee understands that. This is just the same as the responsibility of the presenter to be clear to the listeners.
In many places the law and common practice will support this view as Alexander Woo points out for Canada.
I am also hearing impaired but not to the same extent, but I can give some advice for things that questioners should think about. I'm profoundly deaf on one side and partially on the other. I sometimes wear a hearing aid on the (not so) good side and it increases the sound level, but doesn't really help with comprehension of the spoken word. I can determine that words are being spoken (as I can by just looking) but can't distinguish the words themselves. I developed ways to respond to questions of students, but they wouldn't be of help in this case. Especially since this was a sudden problem for the person you describe where mine developed over years.
One reason is that we write like this butourspokencommunicationisactuallydonelikethis.
It is called continuous speech and understanding it depends on catching the unspoken breaks between words as well as the words, because we don't speak with breaks. Worse, if you don't hear and comprehend the first word you (i.e. "we") find it very hard to catch up with the meaning. It is just sounds, not speech.
And, increasing the level of sound (as with hearing aids or yelling) can be counterproductive, making comprehension harder. Some people learn informally to read lips to some extent, but it is difficult, especially given people's different accents and continuous speech.
The suggestion of Patricia Shanahan in a comment is a good one. Provide a way for questioners to "ask" questions using some visual means rather than aural.
And make sure that the administration guarantees that some curmudgeonly professor doesn't fail a student due to their own frustration or unwillingness to accommodate a candidate who has no effective way to respond.
I'm working peripherally with a woman who is deaf that is not an ASL user this year. When we need everyone to rapidly understand each other, we hire a captioner
We use one who is present in the room. She's very good. There are other web-based services that do much the same thing.
If your colleague is new to deafness, I suggest that something amounting to a dry run should be tried. This is worth working hard to get it right.
Writing is too slow and intrusive.
What you need is a real-time transcriptionist who will provide a live on-screen transcription at 200+ words per minute.
http://stenoknight.com/index.html (New York City, but a very informative website with videos of the process)
and this is how it works in an intensive television quiz show:
https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p00pl1kb (content may not be available outside UK) https://limpingchicken.com/2012/04/18/news-deaf-contestant-set-for-mastermind-appearance/