[Athen] FM Listening Devices vs. recordings devices for Hard of Hearing as a classroom conversation

Steven Sullam Steven.Sullam at csi.cuny.edu
Fri Mar 17 09:42:48 PDT 2017

Hi Joshua,

Thank you for responding . Here at CUNY/Staten Island there has been a history of providing a very thorough range of accommodations for students with hearing impairments. The students who are advised to use recording device are the students with the mildest hearing impairments who don’t want CART. I still have a problem with the deficiencies in this approach to providing accessibility in the real time classroom environment. It just doesn’t address the issue of the student fully being present in class, which is a central purpose of assistive technology. I hope others will respond to this conundrum of mine.

Since you brought it up, I’m still having a hard time seeing the value of the Somnolent recorder over the smart pen. I’m still sold on the smart pen as the best option, because it enables such fine grained personalized navigation through a class lecture. It seems to me that synchronizing pages of written text to a voice file is a more sophisticated system than one that uses a mark or a picture as a means of navigation through the same file. Since the Sonocet seems to be spreading like wild fire, I would like to hear more as to why you choose it over the smart pen.


Steve Sullam

Hello Steve,

Yes, I've seen that here too. I've been handing out less each year, but our interpreters and CART services may be a reason for that. We have a much higher demand for CART services than other accommodation requests.

For some of our users with a more recent hearing lose, and refuse to use ALD's, I have been suggesting the Petralex app. Kind of like a hand held audio magnifier, and they keep improving the audio quality with each update.

For those wanting the smartpen, I've been moving them over to sonocent where I can. Having them highlight areas of concern and using the noise cancellation (to get rid of the static everyone complains about) and gain controls on the desktop app to produce better audio. I see that we can now import transcripts, but I haven't tried it yet. You can also import smartpen audio into it to reduce the palm rubbing against paper that's picked up.

I think other students use technology in others ways to accommodate themselves, and we never hear from them. I was pointed to the AVA app by one of my students. Interesting app, but not sure how well it's working for them since it picks up background speaking sometimes.

Questions are usually saved for office hours. Lectures can be fast and furious with little room for interruption, others may have a class discussion which may occur. We do accommodate the student for office hours and course events, usually with interpreters, at the request of the student.

We realize that students are going to explore their options and test their limits. We just keep reminding them we're available. I've even had units on hand during finals for students to try out after an exam. They'll probably ignore it, but every now and then I'll get a taker.


Joshua Hori
Accessible Technology Analyst
Student Disability Center
54 Cowell Building
Davis, CA 95616

Sent from my iPhone

On Mar 16, 2017, at 5:25 PM, Steven Sullam <Steven.Sullam at csi.cuny.edu<mailto:Steven.Sullam at csi.cuny.edu>> wrote:

Hello Athen-List,

I wonder if anyone else is experiencing the following situation. Disability services advisors are referring students who had used FM ALDs in high school and are now advised to use a smart pen or a digital tape recorder as their accommodation for hearing impairment.

The students come to me wanting a recorder instead of the ALD so I reluctantly give it to them. As we all know, it is futile to argue with someone who has made up their mind about what they want. I see a major problem with this approach in that it doesn’t address the student’s need for access in real time, even as well as other accommodations like ASL and CART. I don’t see how this accommodation would enable the student to participate by making comments or asking questions in class because s/he still can’t hear what’s going on.

It makes me wonder what the reason for this is. Do students even ask questions in class anymore? I queried the last student who came to see me. She said she didn’t like carrying the FM device to class. She also didn’t like having to give the transmitter to the teacher at the beginning of every class. She said that there was a lot of static on the receiver. (Maybe it wasn’t charged fully.)

From my experience, a properly functioning FM listening device transmits sound loudly and clearly from a speaker to a listener in a way that no other device can. . Are Assistive Listening Devices no longer being used as an accommodation in higher education?

Thanks much in advance for your comments. I would really welcome the thoughts of others on this subject.

Best regards,

Steven A. Sullam M.S.
Assistant Director of Assistive Technology
Center for Student Accessibility
College of Staten Island
City University of New York
2800 Victory Boulevard
Staten Island, NY 10314
Ph. 718.982.3343

athen-list mailing list
athen-list at mailman13.u.washington.edu<mailto:athen-list at mailman13.u.washington.edu>
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://mailman12.u.washington.edu/pipermail/athen-list/attachments/20170317/46b75335/attachment.html>

More information about the athen-list mailing list