By Benjamin M. Jaffe Although the acoustics in Sanders Theatre may be perfect for concerts, Sanders is not the ideal
By Benjamin M. Jaffe
Although the acoustics in Sanders Theatre may be perfect for concerts, Sanders is not the ideal place for lectures. Gordon E. Powers III ’09, who is hard of hearing, knows this fact better than any other student in Moral Reasoning 22: “Justice.”
Powers, who has a hearing disability and often “mishears” things, is provided with a professional interpreter who translates what is said in class into sign language.
At Harvard, student, faculty, staff, and guests of the University can request sign language interpreters in order to participate in any class or event. Professional interpreters are required to have bachelor’s and master’s degrees in addition to national certification and training.
The support system that Harvard provides for the deaf was one of the deciding factors in Power’s decision to come to Harvard.
“I have taken a lot of science classes as an MCB concentrator, and the fact that the interpreting services at Harvard allow me to enroll in classes with such complex terminology is truly a testament to how exceptional the services are at Harvard,” said Powers in an e-mailed statement.
The greatest challenge for interpreters, according to Kellie L. Stewart, one of Powers’s interpreters, is the pace of the person speaking. Interpreters run into trouble with people who speak softly or very quickly, explained Stewart in an e-mailed statement.
In addition to interpreters, some deaf students use a captioning system, in which they can watch the words spoken in class on their laptop.
“I was quite pleased to see that we do have a disabled policy to facilitate these kind of classes,” said Hasan K. Siddiqi ’08, another student in Justice. “I try to put myself in the students’ shoes and I realize that if I didn’t have this support then I couldn’t study here at Harvard.”