Never has it been as easy to make your school fully accessible to deaf & hard-of-hearing students.
5% of students in average are deaf & hard-of-hearing, and are at a disadvantage in day-to-day interactions in a school environment. To succeed in their studies, they require full information and understanding of classes, group projects, and others. But current (and quite expansive) accessibility solutions, such as professional interpreters and captioners, don’t cover yet all the needs of a fast-paced student life today.
To follow last-minute classes, group discussions, some school presentations, deaf & hard-of-hearing students often have to rely on partial lip-reading and notes taken by their peers. This leads to unfortunate misunderstandings, fastidious back-and-forth and sometimes frustration in a context of degraded school performance.
That’s where Ava comes in. Ava is the first artificial intelligence geared towards accessibility. Its state-of-the-art speech recognition engine drastically simplifies communications between your deaf/hard-of-hearing students, their peers who can hear, and their teachers. Ava’s accessibility system can captions most interactions in your campus where a deaf & hard-of-hearing student is involved.
Go from writing down notes on paper to instant transcription of your classrooms, with the affordability & the instantaneity of a truly technology-driven solution, complementing solutions that existed already.
Your campus can be made truly inclusive. The best? Classmates of deaf/hard-of-hearing students love Ava because they get class notes from it as well. Accessibility is a win-win for everyone.
What this guide will do for you
This guide will teach you how to setup Ava for your deaf/hard-of-hearing students and show them different ways to make the most out of it to enhance communication in campus.
Please note that the expected accuracy of the Ava captioning service (+90% accuracy with the correct setup) stays below the one of a professionally certified captioner.
Ava is a solution aiming at ensuring that your employee can be included in your campus at all times, even when budget & scheduling constraints make it impossible to use traditional solutions.
Test Ava in real conditions in your campus
Set up Ava and give it a try by yourself
- Download Ava (link or “Ava Communicate” in app store) on your smartphone or tablet. Ava is available on Android and iOS, also on the Web in the Professional version. Windows/Blackberry are not be supported.
- Open Ava and set up an account. You’ll need a phone number to use Ava.
- We support email-based accounts in the Professional version, but you should not need it to give Ava a try.
- Create your Ava Name (e.g. “&JuliaUCBerkeley). It will be used for others to connect with you, by typing it in their Ava application.
- Give Ava a try yourself by testing the voice recognition accuracy.
- Speak 12 inches or closer to the phone to have your words caption at an expected 85-95% accuracy.
- If Ava is not transcribing at this accuracy level:
- Try speaking louder, in a quieter environment
- Try speaking slower (not excessively) and using sentences without too much jargon
- We’ll be able to improve later the accuracy for these cases. But the goal here is to give you a feeling of the accuracy/speed of the transcription.
- If Ava captions don’t come out/ or slow (more than 3 seconds delay)
- Devices using Ava needs to be able to be connected to the Internet during the conversations you want Ava to caption, either via a WiFi or cellular network.
- Slow Internet connection is always responsible of a delay in the captions. WiFi disconnections may also disturb Ava.
- If no captions at all come up, it may be the company’s firewall. Try Ava on cellular data or at home.
- Works well? Let’s try it with deaf/hard-of-hearing students.
Find a few deaf/hard-of-hearing student to test Ava
- Present Ava to a few of your deaf/hard-of-hearing students and find a few who’d be interested to give it a try. Some tips:
- Ask them if they have a few minutes of free time. You have this really interesting app you want to show them.
- You can send an email along these lines with the content:
It is made to help deaf/hard of hearing students communicate with their peers and understand in class when no interpreter or captioner is available. Would that be interesting to you to have? Are you open to giving it a try in a small meeting together?
- Have a first 1-1 conversation with them using Ava.
- Be next to each other, open Ava and talk to the app to show them the accuracy/speed of captions. Deaf & hard-of-hearing are good at lip-reading in face-to-face interactions already, but it’s tiring to maintain for longer conversations. This is where the benefits of Ava shine.
- While you can start only talking to your phone and show them that the app captions your voice, Ava is designed for many more interactions. For example, if you connect two smartphones (one for you, one for the deaf/hard-of-hearing employee), the communication will be faster/more effective.
- You can use the Share function on Ava to invite the deaf/hard-of-hearing students via email. It will come up with a pre-written message explaining the situation and an instant invite link.
- When the students tap your invite link (e.g: ava.app.link/xxxxx), they’ll be able to connect to you instantly after downloading the Ava app on their smartphone.
- You can also share your Ava Name or show your QR code to have them join you.
- Did it go well? Are your deaf/hard-of-hearing students interested? Make sure you share with them this user guide to using Ava at school so they can see the range of situations that could be useful for them.
- You can test other situations to complete your idea of Ava: for example: group discussions, guest lectures, one-on-ones meetings, campus lunch, tutoring can be captioned with Ava.
- Feel free to give us feedback on this experience, we usually have tips to make sure the communication is successful.
Deploy Ava for deaf/hard-of-hearing employees in your workplace
- Ava Pioneer Plan is free and can caption conversations up to 5 hours a month. But joining conversations will always be free. Thus, it is likely that only the deaf/hard-of-hearing student will need to use Ava more than 5 hours a month, not their hearing peers.
- In the special case of a Deaf school, teachers may want to have Ava captioning video-projected for a larger number of deaf students to follow the class. See an example here: www.ava.me/life. For this you may prefer to equip per teacher rather than per student.
- For your deaf/hard-of-hearing students who need to use Ava more than 5 hours a month, you’ll want to upgrade them with an Ava Campus license. This plan differs from the mainstream public version (Ava Unlimited) with these:
- 24/7 uncapped captioning service, including:
- Ava Web access (Ava works on laptops) for presentations, faster answers during classroom discussions.
- Transferrable licenses when your students graduate and new ones need to come.
- Dedicated Account manager, and 24-hr email/phone support
- Get an idea of how many deaf/hard-of-hearing students to equip with Ava. You can also approach it by starting with a smaller group, and plan to extend it to more students later.
- Campus licenses are USD $99/month/students, in 3, 6 or 12-months contracts. You generally need as many Campus licenses as deaf/hard-of-hearing students interested by Ava.
- To upgrade to Campus licenses, please use this link to generate an estimate of the license purchase. You’ll need the Ava Name of each account you want to upgrade. Contact us directly if you don’t have the individual Ava Names yet.
- Once the estimate approved, we’ll transform it into an invoice. Feel free to let us know what information needs to be precised
- Once the invoice paid, we’ll upgrade the accounts with the purchased licenses to the Ava Professional plan within 48 hours.
You may consider now or in the future additional equipments to complete the Ava capabilities. We don’t sell the devices directly, but recommend a few of our favorite here: www.ava.me/store. For example:
- A $15 wired microphone to increase accuracy when hearing students speak faster and need to be hands-free all the time, at a lunch for examples.
- A $20 Bluetooth keyboard for students whose voice is hard to understood by their classmates, to make sure they can type their answers and have Ava speak for them faster.
- A $20 Bluetooth microphone to make it easier for them to follow a classroom (with one teacher, to whom they hand the microphone)
An iRig and TRS audio cable are extremely useful to caption a larger presentation (with microphones). See our Ava Event guide for this.
Stores on campus (libraries, fitness gym, student office, etc.) can be made accessible as well. See our Ava Welcome guide for this.
“My deaf students used to miss most of what their teammates were saying in our group discussions. Now they know what’s going on, clearly! It saves them tremendous time. My hearing students also love Ava because I share the notes of our class discussions”
Bonnie Bastian Interrante
Instructor, Rochester Institute of Technology