Optimal viewing distance between deaf viewers and interpreters

In the United States, the Americans with Disabilities Act mandates aural-to-visual access such as sign language interpreters for Deaf and Hard of Hearing (DHH) students who request it. While sign language interpreters provide visual access to lecture aural information for DHH students, it is difficult to for them to pick an optimal distance for both the lecture slides and the interpreter. The student has to pick his or her preferred distance. If the student sits close by, he or she can see the interpreter's signs clearly, but the lecture slides are likely not clearly visible. Alternatively, the student can sit further away from both visuals, so as to see both the interpreter and classroom visuals, but then the student will not be able to see the interpreter's signs clearly. We evaluated DHH students' preferences for viewing distance from the interpreter or slides at 5 or 15 feet. The evaluation results showed that DHH students preferred different viewing distances between interpreters and lecture visuals. While viewing interpreters, DHH participants reported that they best understood interpreters at the closer distance of 5 feet rather than 15 feet. On the other hand, the participants reported that they best understood classroom slides when they viewed it at the farther distance of 15 feet rather than at the closer distance of 5 feet.

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