Teacher Tech blog with Alice Keeler

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Alice Keeler

Google Voice for Deaf Students

Google Voice for Deaf Students

I was doing some brainstorming with some teachers of deaf students. I was having my college students use Google Voice as a quick and dirty podcasting method (I’ll save that for another blog).  Obviously this will not work for deaf students, it is an auditory tool.

But can Google Voice be a tool for teaching deaf students? We think so, here are some ideas:

  • Do not give out your phone number, give parents your Google Voice number. The ability to create groups and have calls go straight to voicemail or to easily set do not disturb makes it easier to separate your personal and teaching life. (okay that tip is for all teachers).
  • Call and leave yourself voicemails, Google Voice transcribes your voicemail. You can embed the audio file but also copy and paste the transcribed text so if students are hard of hearing they can benefit from your podcast as well.
  • Encourage deaf students to sign up for Google Voice (with parent permission of course). Then you can leave them voicemail feedback and they will get the transcription of what you said.
  • Why not let students use their cell phones in class, at the very least you’ll be the coolest teacher on campus. Allow deaf students to text to your Google Voice number to ask questions. You can reply via text or email to help facilitate communication.
  • If you have students working all over the room and their back is to you it might be challenging to get the attention of a deaf student. You can text from your Google Voice account to the student to help get them information.
  • Students can text the teacher questions. If it is a challenge to verbally articulate the question, using Google Voice to text might be the answer.
  • Google Voice does not require a phone so texting can work through the computer.
    While you could just use email if you’re using a computer, a child can use computer and the text goes to teacher who may not be at their  computer. Able to instantly ask and answer questions.
  • I am sure there are more ideas how Google Voice can benefit deaf students, post a comment and share your ideas.

3 thoughts on “Google Voice for Deaf Students

  1. Great ideas Alice. I am always looking for more ways to get students engaged. I used google voice with my students so they could call me with homework questions. Ramsay Musallam has some great ideas for using screencasting apps like Screenchomp on the iPad to answer homework questions. I think you could create the screencast answer then text the link back to the student. Sometimes it’s easier to show rather than tell.
    Another way to get deaf/hard of hearing and even shy students involved in class conversation is corkboard.me. I’m using in my class and it’s great to hear from everyone, not just the talkative students.

  2. I am deaf who works in K-12. I use Google Voice, too. We are not there yet – when speech is perfectly transcribed to text. Right now, when Google Voice is auto transcribed it’s more often than not badly transcribed and is difficult to read. If a teacher leaves a message on Google Voice (e.g. via a class lecture), students might not always understand what the teacher is saying, especially if they do not have sufficient life experience to get the gist of the information.

    If the transcription is intelligible, the teacher could experiment to speak more clearly.

    In my experience, as a student, until speech transcription is further improved, it’s still more effective to provide class notes in writing or pre-written transcripts, add your own captions to videos, write on a board to get the point across, and enable smaller groups where it’s easier for a deaf participant to ask others to repeat without taking up everyone’s time.

    While speech need not be perfectly transcribed (e.g. get each word right) Google still has ways to go. We still need humans or better software to write transcripts we can rely on.

    1. Sure. One of my pre-service teachers who works with Deaf students came up with this idea. It’s at least one way to get people to start thinking about how they can make accommodations.

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