Communication Services

A Guide to Communication Services for UC Davis Deaf and Hard of Hearing Students


The University of California, Davis (UC Davis) is committed to ensuring that Deaf and Hard of Hearing students have equal access to educational opportunities offered at this campus. The disability specialists, interpreters, and captioners at the Student Disability Center (SDC) are available to help you with your needs for academic accommodations and communication assistance.

This Guide explains the types of auxiliary services, aids, and accommodations that the SDC makes available to Deaf and Hard of Hearing students, and the procedures for obtaining and maintaining those services, aids, and accommodations.

Communicating with the SDC and Your Specialist

Abigail Tilden is the Disability Specialist for Deaf and Hard of Hearing students (D & HH students). All new students who request services must meet with Abigail before the beginning of their first quarter to verify eligibility, approve accommodations, and confirm schedules; to review policies and procedures; and to receive other guidance and information.

Please schedule appointments with Abigail either in person at the front reception desk; by calling the SDC at (530) 752-3184 (voice); or by emailing the SDC. Please let us know at the time you schedule the appointment if you would like to have an interpreter or captioner present for the meeting with Abigail. The office is open to the public from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon and 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. (closed during the lunch hour).

You may also e-mail Abigail directly and CC the SDC email address.

Available Communication Services

The SDC provides education-related communication services to D & HH students for activities related to courses in which they are enrolled, including lectures, seminars, discussion sections, examinations, laboratory/studio sections, and meetings with instructors, teaching assistants, and academic advisors. The SDC also provides services for specially scheduled academic events and activities (e.g. one-time examination review sessions and meetings with faculty). Note that for extra-curricular activities, the event sponsor provides accommodations. Please see the UC Davis Accessibility page.

SDC communication services provided as academic accommodations are described below. Where necessary for effective communication, and based upon an individualized assessment of the student's needs and circumstances, these communication services will be provided in combination. Accommodations include:

Sign Language Interpreting, Transliteration, and Oral Interpreting

Interpreting services in the student's preferred communication mode are provided by the SDC's staff interpreters, who are certified by the national Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID). SDC interpreters are skilled in facilitating all aspects of communication for D & HH students with faculty, staff, and peers to allow full participation in campus education-related activities. Interpreting services are usually provided on-site, but can also be provided remotely if there is Internet access permitting the streaming of high-quality uninterrupted sound from the classroom to the off-site interpreter and also streaming the video of the interpreter back to the student's laptop or mobile device.

Communication Access Real-Time Translation (CART), Captioning, and Transcription

CART, also known as real-time captioning, is the instantaneous translation of spoken word to text. Captioning enables a D & HH student to participate in lectures, discussion sections, and other class activities by reading text as it appears on a screen. SDC staff Captioners provide CART using a stenography machine and laptop to transcribe what is said in "real time," as it is being said. Text in English is captioned with a delay of less than two seconds. The Captioner is either present in the classroom with the student, or in another location (remote captioning). If the Captioner is sitting with the student, the text is read by the student from the Captioner's laptop. If wireless is available or remote captioning is provided, the text is displayed on the student's laptop or mobile device, if there is high-quality Internet access (see above).

With approval from the SDC Specialist, transcripts may be provided to the student after lectures if necessary to meet the student's needs. Transcripts for Podcasts/audio recordings of the class, or of videos shown in class or assigned, may also be provided as an accommodation as needed.

Assistive Listening Devices (ALDs)

FM Systems FM systems transmit sound via radio waves. The speaker (instructor) wears a portable transmitter and clip-on microphone, while the student uses a portable receiver with either headphones or mini-earbuds. Students with hearing aids that are equipped with telecoil "T" switches may use neckloop or silhouette cords that connect the receiver to the student's hearing-aids. The SDC has FM systems, including headphones, ear buds, neck loops, and silhouettes that students may check out for the quarter. The SDC notifies the student's instructors of the need to wear the microphone and transmitter. If an instructor has questions about using an FM system, the student should ask him/her to contact the SDC.

Infrared Systems Infrared systems transmit sound via light waves. Some classrooms and auditoriums at UC Davis have infrared systems installed that send out an infrared signal for audio transmitted over the general Public Address system. The infrared system is activated as soon as the room's PA system is turned on. Hard of Hearing individuals can use an infrared receiver with or without hearing aids to access this signal. The SDC has infrared receivers that SDC students may check out for the quarter. Rooms that have infrared systems are posted with signs, and the SDC has a list of rooms in which infrared systems are available. If an instructor has questions about using an infrared system, the student should ask him/her to contact Academic Technology Services (ATS) Classroom Support throught the ATS web site; ATS email; or call the Classroom Hotline at (530) 752-3333 between 7:30 a.m. and 10:00 p.m.

Note-Taking Services

If requested and authorized, D & HH students may receive the accommodation of note-taking services for their classes. The SDC pays stipends to hearing students who are enrolled in the class who provide copies of their notes to D & HH students. Note-taking includes writing the main points stated in class, but does not provide a word-for-word record of what happens in class.

The SDC sends notices to instructors requesting that they announce in class and post on the class SmartSite information about the need for student note-takers. Please let the SDC know right away if the announcement is not made. You may identify and select your own student note-taker and have him/her contact the SDC about the stipend process. Note-takers are expected to provide SDC students copies of their notes, generally within two days after class. They also should keep records of their note-taking services to facilitate payment.

Concerns or Questions About Accommodations

Please e-mail your Specialist, Abigail Tilden, about any concerns regarding your Communication Service Providers; issues regarding faculty; difficulty finding a note-taker; or problems with note-takers that you have selected.

Abigail will work with you, your Communications Service Providers, your faculty, or your note-takers to resolve your concerns. Students who are unsatisfied with the resolution may contact the SDC Director and/or seek assistance through the university's grievance procedures.

Confirming Class Schedules and Communication Services Requests

A. Priority Registration

To assist the SDC in scheduling Communication Services, eligible D & HH students are authorized to have Priority Registration. The SDC sends the names of eligible students to the Registrar's Office and notifies students via e-mail of the date for priority registration.

Students can also prepare for registration in advance using a schedule-builder so that when their pass time arrives, they can simply submit their "shopping cart" containing their course choices and priorities (i.e. which courses to substitute if their first choices are not available).

B. Requesting Accommodations

Please complete and submit the SDC Accommodation Request Form for D & HH Students as early as possible each quarter, preferably within a week after registering for classes, so that we may schedule your service providers. This form can be downloaded or completed online. All your requests for in-class accommodations should be made on this form. If you add a class after you submit your requests, you will need to complete a new request form for that class immediately. Also, please let the SDC know ASAP if you are no longer taking a course, so that we may revise interpreter/captioner assignments and schedules.

It is the student's responsibility to ensure that all information on the form is accurate and complete. This includes course number; course title; lecture, discussion, or lab; days; times; room number and instructors' names, if available. Please specify which accommodations you prefer for each class.

Late or incomplete submissions of information may delay accommodations.

Special Requests

Students who desire communication services for academic-related activities that are not part of their regular schedule are requested to notify the SDC at least three (3) working days in advance of the event or activity for which the communication services are needed. We recognize that it may not be possible to provide three days' notice because of last-minute schedule changes beyond the student's control. We cannot guarantee that a provider will be available on short notice, but will do our best to arrange for the requested service.

Notify the SDC of special requests by completing the online One-Time Request Form or by submitting a paper copy of the form to the SDC office.

Extracurricular Events and Activities

It is UC Davis policy to provide communication services for extracurricular activities and events in order to ensure effective communication; the event sponsor arranges the accommodations upon timely request. Please see UC Davis Accessibility.

Because of the lead time needed to identify, secure, and schedule interpreters/captioners for events, students or their guests are requested to make their requests to the event sponsor as soon as possible, but preferably seven to ten days before the event.

Early notice from the student/guest will facilitate arranging the requested Communication Service or accommodation. Even with delayed notice of the need for services, the University will use its best efforts to secure the Communication Service requested for the extracurricular event or activity.

For questions or concerns, please contact Conference and Event Services at (530) 752-2813. In the event that the requested service is not available, best efforts will be made to arrange for reasonable, alternative accommodations.

Communication services for extracurricular activities may be requested by:

  1. Contacting the designated event sponsor identified in publicity about the event Sending an email to
  2. Contacting Conference and Event Services at (530) 752-2813
  3. For questions or concerns, please contact the Office of Compliance and Policy at (530) 752-6550

Notification of Changes, Cancellations, and Lateness

To ensure that we can best direct resources where needed, the SDC needs prompt notice of all changes, cancellations and anticipated late arrivals for class/events. Changes include, but are not limited to: room changes, time changes, one-time cancellations (including exams in which you do not need interpreting or CART services), permanent cancellation of services, if you intend to arrive late or leave class early, and any other alteration in your regular schedule.

Unless unforeseen circumstances prevent you from doing so, please notify the SDC of changes, cancellations, and/or late arrivals at least 48 hours (two business days) before the scheduled class/event. We understand that there will be times when it is not feasible to provide 48-hour advance notice. In those circumstances, please contact the SDC as soon as possible once you know of the cancellation or that you will be absent/late.

Please notify the SDC of any changes in your schedule by filling out the form for Changing/Cancelling Support Services and submitting it online.

Lateness Policies

If no advance notice of lateness is provided, the interpreter(s) or captioner(s) will wait for the student's arrival for 15 minutes after the start of class for a one-hour class, 20 minutes for two hour classes, and 30 minutes for classes three hours in duration or longer.

If the student has not arrived for class within the time specified, the interpreter(s) or captioner(s) are instructed to return to the SDC or to go to another interpreting or captioning assignment. Students who arrive at class after the interpreter/captioner has left should contact the SDC. If the interpreter is available and has not been reassigned, the SDC will have the interpreter return to the class as soon as possible. Captioners cannot return because setting up equipment a second time will disrupt class. If a late student audio records the portion of the class he/she attends, the SDC will transcribe the recording.