sign language 88.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
A study course for the psychometric pre-university exam in sign language, aimed at enabling students who are hard of hearing or deaf to gain a place at one of the country’s institutes of higher learning, will be launched this coming January, it was announced Monday.
With full subsidies from the National Insurance Institute (NII), the course – the first of its kind – will be run countrywide by Student, the Center for Psychometric Studies, an associate organization of the Tel Aviv Union of Students.
The classes will be specially tailored to the hard of hearing and the deaf, with transcription and teachers who speak sign language.
However, even though the sign language psychometric course will give deaf students the tools they need for the compulsory exam, the organization says this is only half the battle. Its overall goal is to make universities modify the exam so it is sensitive to the special needs of people with hearing impairments.
“Most people do not understand the special difficulties that psychometric tests pose to people who are hard of hearing,” explained Amit Benjamin, director of Student.
“On one level, a written examination should not be too difficult for someone with a hearing impairment; however, it is the actual exam that is a serious obstacle.”
According to the organization, even though many hearing-impaired
students are highly intelligent, they end up failing the exam or scoring
poorly because it tests the nuances of the Hebrew language and other
concepts that those who speak sign language would not know about.
“For the deaf, their native language is sign language,” Benjamin said.
“[In sign language] there is no concept of synonyms or verbs, and these
are all elements that are a substantial part of the psychometric exam.”
Benjamin said the course was not only about learning in sign language
how to pass the psychometric, but would also focus on tackling the
difficulties faced by the hearing-impaired.
“It will help them to overcome the problems they experience in
understanding the language of the exam,” he said, adding that “this is
an important step forward in enabling the hearing-impaired to access
higher education, but the real solution is that the National Institute
for Testing and Evaluation must ease up on the psychometric test for
people with hearing disabilities.”
According to Benjamin, “it is absurd that during the bagrut [high school
matriculation exam], people with hearing impairments are given extra
time and interpreters, but in the psychometric, [which] requires verbal
skills and is built on the basis of language, there is one group of
people that is excluded, and they are only given a little bit of
additional time to complete the test.”
Many people with hearing impairments end up being locked out of higher
education and subsequently cannot find work even in higher-paying fields
that do not require verbal skills, such as computers. Instead people
who are hard of hearing are forced to take low-paying jobs or claim
The organization said that the NII had been very quick to support the
course “because they realized that it would be beneficial for everyone
in the long term.”
The Union of Students said it would now fight even harder to make sure
the university entrance exam took the barriers faced by hard-of-hearing
students into consideration.