DUP Week: Using Technology to Create an Inclusive Meeting Environment with Della Thomas and Marcia Kolvitz

Greetings! We are Della Thomas and Marcia Kolvitz. Della works with local school districts to providing language access services to students who are deaf or hard of hearing. Marcia is an educational consultant who focuses on professional development in the areas of transition planning and postsecondary opportunities for students and youth who are deaf or hard of hearing (D/HH). Both of us have worked with a large-scale initiative to support collaborative activities that engage stakeholders from across the United States to address issues in deaf education. Our participants represented a variety of stakeholder groups, and many of them were D/HH. We’ve considered ways to ensure that our diverse group of participants have the opportunity to participate in these collaborative activities equally. Additionally, as travel funds become scarce and stakeholders’ schedules become busier, we’ve supplemented face-to-face meetings with technology use as a means of building community and supporting team activities.

Lessons Learned:

  • Open captions during presentations benefit everyone. Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART) services are considered an accommodation for participants who are D/HH. However, background noise can make it difficult for other participants to hear the speaker, and some participants may find their attention wandering. The use of CART captions is a good example of Universal Design during a conference.
  • Telephone communication doesn’t always work. Participants who are D/HH may request sign language interpreters during teleconferences to facilitate communication among team members. A simple way to provide this is by using videoconferencing for all participants. Not only does this include the D/HH member, but the non-verbal cues such as facial expressions or body language can provide all participants with additional information.
  • Use a professional for important event (aka evaluation). The standard for a CART provider using a steno keyboard is a minimum of 180 words per minute (wpm) and an accuracy rate of 96%.

Although these lessons learned came as the result of planning large-scale interagency collaborative activities, their value extends beyond individuals with hearing loss. Enhancing large group presentations via CART and small group meetings via videoconferencing will not only provide greater linguistic access for participants, but will send a message of inclusivity for all.

Rad Resources:

RIT Job Board
RIT Job Board








  • Want to add captions yourself?  Try MAGPie free software for adding captions and video descriptions to QuickTime, Windows Media, Real and Flash multimedia.
Media Access Generator – MAGpie2








The American Evaluation Association is hosting the Disabilities and Underrepresented Populations TIG (DUP) Week. The contributions all week are focused on engaging DUP in your evaluation efforts. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

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