WVU Office of Accessibility Services emphasizes importance of resources for at-home students

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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – All schools in West Virginia will finish the year completely online as a result of the coronavirus, putting an end to in-person classes.

For students who are deaf or hard of hearing, the West Virginia University Office of Accessibility Services offers a variety of services for them while they’re in class, such as sign language interpreting, real-time transcription and closed captioning for videos.

12 News spoke with two professionals about how students are accessing and utilizing these services while they’re at home.

Daniel Long, Director of the program and Jason Kapcala, Assistant Director, Captioning and Interpreting both expressed how the Office of Accessibility Services has been working diligently to serve its students during unprecedented times.

Q: What kind of services are students accessing at home?

Long mentioned that a focus is put on each student to determine what their individual needs are to accommodate them with the appropriate resources.

Q: Did the students have a hard time transitioning to working from home?

“We’ve received a lot of positive feedback from students and faculty. I think it’s a relief for faculty to know that we’re well equipped for this,” Kapcala described. “We have a first-class team of captioners and interpreters.”

The biggest challenge that the department faced after making the switch to online courses was the increased number of post-production captioning requests for videos. Kapcala mentioned that officials have been working with faculty to assure that those functions are being turned around in time, to make sure that the students are receiving those accommodations.

“They’ve received hundreds of requests of video captioning and they never once got behind,” Long stated. “As a result of moving classes online to doing additional post-production captioning on top of what they’re already doing is incredible to me.”

With WVU extending spring break by a week before going online, it gave the Office of Accessibility an opportunity to prepare faculty members for the transition. “It allowed us to make sure that we understood the methods of delivery that were going to be used,” Kapcala explained. “And provide feedback to faculty on how that works with the services we provide.”

He emphasized that when classes started back up after spring break, he felt comfortable with his staff knowing that they were prepared, which resulted in a smooth transition.

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