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Toowong joins call for schools to 'cap that!'

07 September 2011

Caps on to them... Toowong students Anna Bakker and Michael Cole-Quill with Senator Ursula Stephens.

Caps on to them... Toowong students Anna Bakker and Michael Cole-Quill with Senator Ursula Stephens.

The biggest bilingual bicultural co-enrolled program in Australia, and a high proportion of deaf and hearing-impaired students, brought the national 'cap that!' initiative to Toowong State School to promote its captions in the classroom campaign.

New South Wales Senator and former teacher Ursula Stephens led the visit during National Literacy and Numeracy Week, urging teachers to turn captions on to boost literacy and inclusive learning.

Toowong students watched a presentation on cap that! and heard Senator Stephens call for educators around Australia to set captions on audiovisual materials to 'on' as standard practice in the classroom.

Alex Varley, CEO of Media Access Australia which is behind the initiative, said turning on captions enhanced learning opportunities for all students by reinforcing the material being watched and boosting general literacy and comprehension skills.

'Our message is that the captions are there already. Teachers just have to turn them on,' he said. 'And having captions on all the time means hearing-impaired kids are not singled out as different.'

In addition to having a high number of deaf and hearing-impaired students, Toowong State School is attended by many students from a non-English speaking background

The result is a school with every second class bilingual, and one in five students involved in English as a second language (ESL) studies.

Head of curriculum Elizabeth Fletcher said Senator Stephens' visit was a valuable exercise for students.

'They study government, so it was a very educational experience for the kids,' Ms Fletcher said.

'And we've got a very unique bilingual program, so we have many deaf and ESL students keen to have captions turned on. We're really excited about the possibility of more things being captioned.'

Media Access Australia is Australia's only independent not-for-profit organisation devoted to increasing access to media for people with disabilities.

During the launch, Senator Stephens demonstrated the ease with which teachers can find captioned resources, activate captions and integrate captions into lessons using teaching resources available at the cap that! website.