Apple today announced that this summer Gallaudet University students and faculty members received a special welcome kit from the Apple company. This gift from Apple will include some essential Bison gear, the school mascot, a sweatshirt, stickers, and a notebook. Apple also giving powerful learning tools that would be essential for the remote fall semester. Every student and faculty member of Gallaudet University will receive Apple’s new iPad Pro, Apple Pencil, and a Smart Folio Keyboard from Apple.
Gallaudet marks the next chapter of its quest with the iPad Pro to provide students with the knowledge and practical skills required for personal and professional success. It is also a key component of Connected Gallaudet, an initiative that consists of the strategic strategy of the university’s three imperatives: equity and belonging, bilingual mission, and creativity.
“We are grateful to Apple for entering into this exciting collaboration with us, and for its support in so many other ways,” says Roberta J. Cordano, president of Gallaudet University. “While Connected Gallaudet was in the works even before the novel coronavirus pandemic, it has become transformational for us as we moved entirely online for the fall semester.”
Gallaudet University has long been a source of advanced learning and teaching methods. Gallaudet has been the leading higher education institution for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community from its establishment in 1864 with eight deaf students, to its flourishing university community of over two thousand students and faculty today.
Gallaudet stands as an example of what educators and students can do with their imagination driven by personal technology, as many schools around the world face the challenges of remote learning with online classes.
The flexibility of the iPad Pro is extremely helpful for SaraBeth Sullivan, a fourth-year Ph.D. student in the Educational Neuroscience program at the university. She can synchronize files around her computers with iCloud, and she takes full advantage of Sidecar during online class presentations, making use of an extra screen. Such characteristics allow remote learning experiences to remain personal.
“In my advanced statistics class using R to analyze data, I was struggling with a piece of code that was giving me repeated errors,” Sullivan says. “I was able to share my screen with my professor over Zoom and hand over controls to her. She was able to work on my iPad, working on my code, solving the issue! Without my iPad, this would have been more difficult.”
iPad Pro is also equipped with built-in intuitive accessibility features, including Live Listen for fine-tuning AirPods and hearing aids, as well as closed captions for reading dialogue and watching movies and TV shows to monitor music and sound effects. Dual language applications are also available in the App Store on your iPad and iPhone.
“I can connect my hearing aid to my iPad using Bluetooth,” Sullivan says. “And for students, I recommend VL2 Storybook apps that support learning in both American Sign Language and English.”
The use of technology by Gallaudet is an important part of all of its programs and services in academia. Almost all courses have an online aspect at Gallaudet and students take at least one course with an online learning framework. For universities worldwide, this degree of technical integration is higher than normal, with courses at Gallaudet making extensive use of visual apps and video. Students and faculty from Gallaudet were well prepared for today’s challenges, harnessing their work with the new features and capabilities.
Dr. Julie A. Hochgesang, Ph.D. and Associate Professor in the Linguistics Department, teaches signed language field methods and phonology and researches linguistic documentation and corpus linguistics. This implies that she is actively studying, analyzing, and investigating how language is used by people.
Technology is important to Dr. Hochgesang, often using Markup to make notes on raw data, AirDrop to exchange files, AirPlay for presentations, and Sidecar. A lot of people who are deaf around the world were talking about the crisis when COVID-19 struck. They found out how to talk about it, too.
“There were words and signs we were using for concepts most of us had never seen before,” says Dr. Hochgesang. “I saw many videos and online written posts and saw the different signs people were using. I was able to screen-record or take a screenshot of these examples and immediately mark them up and insert them in my Notes app or transfer them to my iMovie app to compile them.”
By optimizing the sizes of their individual online screens on her phone, the iPad Pro is also useful in ensuring that Dr. Hochgesang engages well with her linguistic students in remote classes. It is important to have eye contact.
“With my iPad Pro, I am able to connect to my computer and run my shared screen,” says Dr. Hochgesang. “I use Keynote for all of my presentations, allowing me to view the presentation on my iPad Pro, and make all the emboxed screens even bigger allowing me to see all of my students.”
After they graduate from Gallaudet, Apple also gives students technology opportunities. In Washington, D.C., the Apple Carnegie Library has several recruitment activities with Gallaudet, and currently employs more than 30 team members from the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community. Many are Gallaudet alumni.
Jasmin Leon, an Apple Carnegie Library People Operations Planner and a 2019 Gallaudet alum, support recruitment activities and has seen the imagination inspired by Gallaudet alumni around the team.
“We have established an open-mindedness and willingness to try different approaches that fit our customer the best,” says Leon. “With the trust and strong collaborative relationship among us, we were able to create the best experience for all of us. It might be using an iPad to communicate with a deaf customer. It can be launching the Big app on iPhone, but it’s definitely teamwork with teammates who are deaf. We are constantly finding new ways to communicate with the Deaf community.”
When asked about her experience and training during her time at Gallaudet, Leon again mentions the tradition of the University of moving forward learning experiences.
“When I attended my social work classes, we would focus on the importance of technology and how it influences our youths, especially their early childhood education,” Leon says. “We analyzed and discovered the results of early exposure to coding, reading, and how graphic design sparked their creativity and curiosity about learning. If I have to describe Gallaudet University in one sentence, it has to be innovation in technology.”
Apple and Gallaudet also collaborated this fall on the inauguration of scholarships for disabled students of color who are pursuing degrees and courses in information technology, computer science, and other fields of science, technology, and mathematics. The new scholarships will also give students the chance to take part in the Worldwide Developers Conference at Apple.
“It’s an honor to work with such an innovative institution as Gallaudet,” says Susan Prescott, Apple’s vice president of Markets, Apps, and Services. “It’s great to see technology have this kind of impact across an entire university while also bringing coding together with American Sign Language and creativity. It’s so exciting that Gallaudet students will participate in WWDC next year.”