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When hearing speakers address a mixed audience of hearing and deaf participants,1 they have a choice of three methods by which to convey the information in their presentation. They may choose to use English and provide an English-to-ASL interpreter, use ASL and provide an ASL-to-English interpreter, or use simultaneous communication (SimCom). The choice to use SimCom (i.e., to speak and sign at the same time) is based in part on the idea that equivalent information will be communicated directly and simultaneously to both hearing and deaf audience members.
This study examines the effects of SimCom on the degree of correct information received by deaf, hard of hearing, and hearing students. Our objective is to ascertain whether a qualitative difference exists in the comprehensible input in order to determine whether all of the students are receiving equivalent information in the classroom.
Previous research on SimCom shows that the auditory and visual messages produced are not equivalent; the current research seeks to determine whether the received messages are equivalent. Direct feedback from deaf, hard of hearing, and hearing students is the indicator of message equivalence.
Our methodology consisted of showing several short video clips from various presentations given using SimCom. Participants viewed the clips and then responded to one or two questions about the information presented in them. The number of correct responses was tallied and compared across groups. Results show that the messages received by the different cohorts are not equivalent; therefore, the use of SimCom in the classroom needs to be reconsidered.