Areas of Study

Why Send Students to Gallaudet University?

Guidance for Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors

Question: My job as a Vocational Rehabilitation counselor is to assist clients in getting the training and tools they need to get employment. How does Gallaudet help a student get a job better than a local school does?

Answer: In addition to direct communication, Gallaudet provides job opportunities, internships, and career training that prepare students for their future employment.

  • Gallaudet has many student employment opportunities on campus for students, where they can earn money and build skills they can use for their future employment. Because of direct communication, students receive this training in an accessible way.
  • Additionally, for those students who seek positions where they will primarily interact with hearing people in preparation for their future careers, the area around Gallaudet is growing rapidly, with many businesses hiring Gallaudet students. For example, Starbucks recently announced its first United States Signing Store, which will open in October 2018 on H Street NE in Washington, D.C., blocks from Gallaudet.1 With many businesses opening in close proximity to Gallaudet, students have additional opportunities for employment.
  • Approximately 80% of recent Gallaudet graduates said they did at least one internship while they were a student.2 Internships play a critical role in preparing students for their careers. According to a study conducted by Mt. Holyoke College for the National Association of Colleges and Employers, “Our major finding is that GPA and the total number of internships a student completed as an undergraduate student are the major predictors of initial career outcomes.”3 Internship experience contributes to employment success for students, and the vast majority of students at Gallaudet complete at least one internship.
  • Furthermore, being located in the heart of Washington, DC gives students an incredible environment to hone their employment skills. Many Gallaudet students have completed internships with Congress and federal agencies, and the non-profit and business opportunities in the District and surrounding areas are also prolific.
  • Gallaudet has many programs that seek to build students’ career readiness and marketable skills. One of these is the Gallaudet Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute. This institute provides a multitude of opportunities for students to gain entrepreneurship skills and hone their innovative abilities, including courses like Foundations of Entrepreneurship, networking opportunities with the broader DC entrepreneurial community, conferences and workshops like Global Startup Weekend, and business pitch competitions. This is just one of many examples of how Gallaudet is preparing students to succeed in the 21st century economy.

Question: Why should I send a deaf client to Gallaudet University when it is cheaper for me to send them to a local college with interpreters?

Answer: It may appear to be cheaper to send a student to a local college with interpreters, but there are high costs, financial and otherwise, to this approach. Consider the following:

  • While the cost of interpreters varies by state, qualifications, amount of travel time needed, and many other factors, the Bureau of Labor Statistics states that the 2018 median salary for interpreters and translators is $24.00 an hour.4 Using that salary, the cost of two interpreters for a 15 credit course load for a deaf student would be $21, 600 for two semesters. Tuition and fees at Gallaudet for the 2019-2020 school year are $17,038 for two semesters, $4,562 less than the cost for interpreters.5 Note that this salary estimate for interpreters calculates class instruction only. It does not include meetings with professors, study groups, presentations and lectures outside of the classroom, and the many other academic activities that contribute to a student’s success.
  • Due to limited availability of interpreters, schools may try to dictate which class students can take and when. Rather than meeting the needs of the student for their best educational success, the interpreters’ schedules and cost efficiency may be top of mind. While the school might have the best of intentions, there are only a certain number of interpreters available, which is limiting for students. In small towns and rural areas, there simply may not be the number of qualified interpreters available in order to best support the deaf student, which costs them educational opportunities.
  • Interpreted instruction does not provide the same access as direct instruction. At Gallaudet University, students can directly communicate with their professors and peers, raise their hands to ask questions and participate in classroom discussions. In an interpreted setting, this is hampered in many ways, including the time delay between what a professor says and when that message is communicated to the student (by the time the student has received the interpretation and wants to ask a question, the professor may have moved on). Further, the skill of the interpreter greatly impacts how much of the lecture is communicated to the student. In one study of 2,100 educational interpreters in K-12 settings, “approximately 60%… had inadequate skills to provide full access”.6 Another study had 19 deaf adults view educational interpretations from 40 educational interpreters of varying skill levels, with three being considered experts. There was also a control group of 16 hearing participants receiving direct access to the same lessons. For the direct access group, the average comprehension was 95.5%. For the group that viewed the interpretation, the average was 41.6%, with a range of 17.5% to 67.5%. The researcher asserts: “…lack of clarity and completeness found even in interpretations produced by expert interpreters suggests that provision of an interpreter – regardless of skill level – does not in and of itself offer deaf students full access to classroom discourse.”7 While these studies were based on K-12 settings, with the advanced source material and rigor of a college setting, the discrepancies may be even more pronounced in higher education. All of this presents a high cost to the student- through an interpreter they will not receive all the information and instruction that direct access would provide.

Question: What benefits does Gallaudet University offer for a deaf client that they cannot get elsewhere?

Answer: Direct access to every aspect of college life provides students with extensive benefits in academics and the development of soft skills that prepare them to lead and thrive in their careers and communities.

  • Direct access to the classroom at Gallaudet provides students the academic experience that is the essence of what college is about- the ability to ask your professor a question, interact with your peers, form a study group and have vibrant classroom discussions are all a vital part of the college experience and contribute to academic and personal growth for students.
  • Extracurricular activities are also a pivotal part of the college experience because they give students leadership and teamwork opportunities that will guide them in their futures. At Gallaudet a student can be a leader in an array of organizations, such as student body government leader, captain of a sports team, or editor of the school newspaper. While these pursuits are also possible at other universities, direct communication makes these opportunities much more accessible at Gallaudet.
  • Another benefit Gallaudet provides that is unmatched elsewhere is deaf role models. At Gallaudet, students are constantly surrounded by high achieving deaf people who model possibilities. This would not happen at a local school where there may be few, if any, deaf employees.
  • All of this direct communication access builds students’ knowledge, skills, and confidence, which prepares them for a future career where this type of accessibility may be rare. Gallaudet students are educated thoroughly, both in an out of the classroom, and then they are ready to thrive in whatever career they choose.
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