AEA365 | A Tip-a-Day by and for Evaluators

TAG | visual

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 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

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My name is Melissa Cater, and I am an assistant professor and evaluation specialist at Louisiana State University AgCenter.

“At its most fundamental, visual research draws on our basic

capacity to interpret the world through our sense of sight.”

                                                Christopher J. Pole

Visual evaluation methods leverage the power of art, photography and video as a lens for exploring program outcomes. The images provide a bridge between thought and verbal expression.

Hot Tips:

Pose a simple question to which participants can respond with artistic expressions, photographic representations, or video productions. In two recent evaluations, we asked school-aged children to draw a garden. It was a very simplistic request, but the results were quite insightful.

Provide training on equipment and/or software. While this seems to be very obvious, we sometimes overlook the most basic needs. A brief refresher on equipment operation is beneficial for everyone, particularly if you are providing equipment with which everyone is not familiar. Simple tricks for framing shots, using ambient lighting, and getting sounds bites are always useful. Finally, don’t forget to offer guidance in using photo and video editing software.

With the evolution of social media, the opportunities to use mobile devices, like cell phones and tablets, bring a whole new dimension to this approach. Collaborative planning between the evaluator and participants is essential for success. While the mobile platform (e.g. cell phone, tablet, social media, apps) may be familiar, the evaluation process will probably be very new.

Allow time for both individual and group reflection. Participants must first delve into their own thoughts. Providing a structured process for guiding this reflection is especially useful with youth. We’ve had success using graphic organizers for this step. The advantage is that the graphic organizer may then be used to scaffold group discussion.

As group discussion evolves, use group facilitation skills to help participants compare and contrast their individual interpretations. Ultimately, the individual contributions become part of the larger group story.

Rad Resource:

Pole, C. (2004). Visual research: Potential and overview. In C. Pole (Ed.), Seeing is believing? Approaches to visual research. San Diego, CA: Elsevier.

This contribution is from the aea365 Tip-a-Day Alerts, by and for evaluators, from the American Evaluation Association. Please consider contributing – send a note of interest to Want to learn more from Melissa? She’ll be presenting as part of the Evaluation 2012 Conference Program, October 24-27 in Minneapolis, MN.

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