Graduate Catalog

Communication Access Policies

Division of Academic Affairs

Communication Access Policies and Guidelines

Last Revision: May 1, 2014

Refer Questions To: Office of the Provost


  1. The Division of Academic Affairs is one of the university's heaviest consumers of communication access services, broadly defined as interpreting and captioning. In recent years, each new undergraduate and graduate cohort has included increasingly greater numbers of students for whom American Sign Language and Deaf culture are new or emerging concepts. In addition, Gallaudet enrolls a growing number of students with additional disabilities who request communication access services through the university's Office for Students With Disabilities (OSWD). Finally, every year, the Division hires faculty, administrative and professional staff, and support staff who are new signers.
  2. Enrollment and retention are two of the university's five strategic priorities, so it is in our best interest to enroll and retain students who need communication access services. At the same time, this has resulted in dramatically rising costs. It has become necessary to institute more rigorous tracking of communication access requests and costs. This document sets out policies and guidelines to guide administrators, requesters, and consumers.


These policies and guidelines apply to faculty, staff, undergraduate and graduate students, and visitors in all academic departments and units within the Division of Academic Affairs that use communication access services.

Philosophical Framework

The following philosophical framework was used to develop these guidelines:

Gallaudet University is a bilingual educational institution with the focus on a rich student experience that promotes students' current and future successes. Because the majority of students rely on visual modes for accessing communication and direct communication is the ideal norm, each faculty, staff person, and student of the Gallaudet community is accountable for direct, effective, meaningful, and accessible communication in the various aspects of University life.

As Gallaudet strives to achieve the ideal norm, it is recognized that some members of the University community, particularly some of those who have recently been introduced to American Sign Language, require the prudent and efficient use of University resources in order to ensure that they can participate in effective and meaningful communications that promote student success until such time they become capable of directly communicating in ASL with other Gallaudet community members.

This philosophical framework was derived from careful review of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Gallaudet University Sign Communication Statement, the Gallaudet University Language and Communication Expectations Recommendations, the Gallaudet University mission and vision statements, and the Gallaudet Strategic Plan. It is subject to revision as the university itself evolves.

Definition of communication access services

  1. Gallaudet University provides communication access services via interpreting and captioning through Gallaudet Interpreting Service (GIS), a unit of the Division of Administration and Finance.
  2. Communication access services are provided in a variety of situations, both on-campus and off-campus.

    These situations include, but are not limited to:

    1. Academic classes
    2. Practica, internships, externships, student teaching, and other "field" activities
    3. Telephone calls and teleconferences
    4. Meetings
    5. Lectures, panels, symposia, face-to-face conferences, videoconferences, webinars
    6. Performances
    7. Athletic events
    8. Official University functions (Convocation, Commencement, dissertation defenses, etc.)
    9. Mission-critical activities
    10. Crisis and emergency situation
  3. The following types of interpreting are provided
    1. American Sign Language to English
    2. English to American Sign Language
    3. deaf-blind (including tactile, tracking, and close vision)
  4. The following types of captioning are provided.
    1. Communication access realtime translation (CART)
    2. TypeWell, also known as C-Print or Text Interpreting
    3. live captioning
    4. transcription services
  5. GIS will make efforts to provide other specialized communication access services, such as international interpreting, trilingual interpreting, or cued speech, if requests are submitted in a timely manner and qualified providers are available.

Shared Responsibility for Communication Access

The University has an affirmative responsibility to meet the communication access needs of its present and future students. Enrollment Management and demographic research units must make every effort to project future enrollment trends. This will help the division to allocate its communication access resources and contain costs.

Each member of the Academic Affairs community has a responsibility to work cooperatively, patiently, and respectfully so that everyone understands and is understood in classes, meetings, and other situations, both formal and informal. Determination of optimum communication modality must be a collaborative endeavor among faculty, staff, and students to ensure that each Academic Affairs community member has full access.