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Byword: A blog by and for the TW community

The Instructor's Perspective: a transcriber takes her place at the front of the classroom

The first day of fall quarter, I walked in the classroom door, searching for the instructor, noting all the students' eyes on me, before reminding myself, once again, that this class was different. I was the instructor! I spent two quarters at the front of the room, teaching a core English class, before returning to the chair marked "reserved for DSS" in the back of the classroom and resuming my work as a TypeWell transcriber. This brief experience of working as an instructor was a fascinating glimpse into what instructors and professors face on a day-to-day basis.

Stack of books and papers
"Instructors juggle too many concerns to count... Don't be afraid to remind the instructor what you need."

Instructors juggle too many concerns to count. They enter the classroom and are immediately at the helm of their ship. Instructors often handle student questions before class, after class, and during break time, and so it is understandable that they may forget to put on captions, to check if a video is captioned, to provide transcribers with handouts, or any of the other things that we hope they'll do to help their student(s) with accommodations gain access to all their course materials. We may find time to slip in a question about captioning, only to have the teacher forget to put on the captions when the time comes.

Through the experience of teaching a college course, I have had the opportunity to not only understand more fully how instructors may not provide as much assistance as we'd hope. I've also had the chance to reflect on all the instructors who have gone above and beyond, providing extra handouts and making sure materials are closed captioned ahead of time, and to appreciate their efforts even more.

College Professor

"Instructors enter the classroom and are immediately at the helm of their ship. They often handle student questions before class, after class, and during break time."

One piece of advice I would give to fellow transcribers, after being at the front of the class, is not to be afraid to remind the instructor what you need in order to provide communication access. As both an instructor and as a transcriber, it's easy to get into a routine, and that often means forgetting materials. Talking to the instructor about what you need, and providing contact information for the instructor on the first day of class (according to your school's procedures, of course), can be very helpful.

My time as an instructor has shaped my approach to communication with others in the field of communication access.

Early in the quarter or semester is an ideal time to establish communication and to help the instructor understand your role. Additionally, the instructor may not yet be bogged down with student emails and grading papers and tests. A quick question about materials for an upcoming class will remind the instructor of your presence in the classroom, and that in itself can be helpful.

Ultimately, the instructor, the transcriber, and the coordinator have the shared goal to facilitate learning. During my time as an instructor, I came to an even greater appreciation of that shared goal, and that understanding has shaped my approach to communication with others in the field of communication access, as well as those in the larger field of education.

books: ant.photos via photopin cc
prof at board: Sterling College via photopin cc
prof and students: kevin dooley via photopin cc

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Rachel Ballard

Rachel Ballard has been a TypeWell transcriber since 2008. She is also a writer and co-parent to two French Bulldogs and a grumpy old cat. Her debut novel, A Long-Forgotten Truth, was published in 2011.

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