Disability Services hires first deaf services coordinator

The deaf services coordinator will also serve as an interpretor for students who may need it.

MU Disability Services is in the process of changing its campus program for the deaf and hard of hearing.

Angela Graves was hired as the program's first deaf services coordinator, and she will be in charge of managing the many services provided to students within the program.

Before coming to MU, Graves was the Missouri Interpreters Certification System coordinator and staff interpreter at the Missouri Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing in Jefferson City. Before that, she worked as an interpreter for public schools at the high school and college level in St. Louis.

Graves said in her new position she will coordinate everything from interpretation services to accommodations for tests and notes. Graves also said she will be in charge of interpreting a number of classes during the week or hiring agency interpreters for classes she is unable to cover.

“I have a schedule of classes I attend every week," Graves said. "Our students range from freshman level to Ph.D. students, so it’s quite the range of classes."

Disability Services Director Barbara Hammer said she created Graves’ new position in order to bring more services to campus.

“We’ve always provided interpreting services for students with disabilities, but before we used interpreters from the agencies in town,” Hammer said. “It made sense to have someone on campus.”

Graves said it just makes sense to have someone in-house that can provide a multitude of services to the deaf and hard of hearing.

"I’m always around in case students have a last-minute need or cancellation," Graves said. "I can interpret, but I can also troubleshoot with IT to try and get an internet line open so captioning set up in a classroom, make sure classroom media has captions, loan out FM systems or other assistive listening devices for hard of hearing students or interpret a lecture at Jesse Auditorium or someone’s graduation."

The new changes will also be cost-effective, Hammer said.

“Last year, I interpreted over 650 hours here at MU through classes, meetings with advisors, small groups, lectures, graduations, etc.," Graves said. "This is 650 hours that previously had been contracted out."

Graves' new position has saved Disability Services from having to hire local help. However, part-time interpreters may be hired as time goes on, Hammer said.

“If we could hire another interpreter, hopefully the savings and — more importantly, the resources available to the students — would increase,” Graves said.

Hammer believes the changes within her program will be a big help to students.

“This can be nothing but positive for the students,” Hammer said. “A lot of people misunderstand, but we are finding ways to educate the people we work with and to provide help to students who need it.”

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