Deaf and hard of hearing students do not have equal access to lecture information in higher education classrooms, even with visual translation accommodations such as sign language interpreters or captioners. As a result, their learning and retention rates lag behind in comparison with their hearing peers. Research shows deaf students lose substantial lecture information due to two main factors largely unaddressed by the accommodations: cognitive limits on handling simultaneous visual translation of audio and other visual information sources, and classroom layouts that have widely dispersed information sources, viewing distances, and angles. This dissertation explores a consumer device-driven approach that is centered on multiple view perspectives (MVP). MVP improves visual access and inclusion of deaf students receiving accommodations in classrooms not designed for full visual accessibility. Approaches to enable deaf students are investigated to obtain better views of the classroom information sources, and to manage these multiple views. The first approach investigated development of a personal and flexible technology platform that uses personal mobile devices to enable deaf students to use it in a wide variety of classroom settings and layouts. Next, the scalability of multiple video streams is investigated for heterogeneous bandwidth devices in a BitTorrent simulator adapted for video streaming. Student preferences in prioritizing and consolidating widely dispersed and simultaneous multiple classroom information sources on their personal devices are investigated. Finally, consumption saving approaches in battery and processor limited personal devices are explored to more efficiently record, compress, and stream classroom video perspectives. Collectively, these investigations show that personal mobile devices can be used to improve visual accessibility and enhance classroom learning for deaf students. Unlike most classroom accessible technologies, MVP is designed to be portable, student-centered and be either used independently from the institutional network or in concert with it.

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Thesis Advisor:
Jehan-Francois Paris

Award Date:
December 1, 2010

University of Houston
Houston, Texas, USA

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