terptree: How to create a 'Deaf Friendly' School

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Monday, 18 June 2012

How to create a 'Deaf Friendly' School

This week we are talking about what it takes to create a Deaf friendly school.  The following advice and information has been taken from the National Deaf Children's Society's (NDCS) publication 'Deaf Friendly Schools' - which is a must have for teachers and staff working with deaf children in a mainstream school environment.

When we are talking about deafness, we mean either a permanent or a temporary loss; so this includes a mild, moderate, severe and profound hearing loss.

It is becoming more and more common for deaf children to be educated in a mainstream primary school environment.  For a school, this can be a huge challenge - learning how to meet the needs of a deaf child within the class and make the environment as equal and accessible as possible.

Here is some information and tips that will give some awareness of the positive strategies that can be implemented to offer the same educational experience to deaf children within mainstream education.

For more detailed advice, we would suggest contacting the NDCS freephone advice line on 0808 800 8880.  They have advisers on hand, who have a specialism in Education and also some really great publications available. 

The whole school approach

What do we mean by a 'whole school approach'?  
A real commitment from the school to ensure that a deaf child has the ability to equally participate.  

It is vital that the involvement is in the full educational experience; in lessons as well as social time and after school activities.  This will help to build confidence and encourage relationships with hearing peers.

Deafness itself is not considered a Special Educational Need, but the challenges and needs arising from deafness are.

It is recommended that all staff within the primary and secondary setting are aware of how to identify signs of deafness.

Many deaf children will have a Statement of Special Educational Needs.  This should include clear information and objectives for the key areas for development and how these goals will be achieved.

Tips for good teaching practice

Here are some useful tips that will help to make your lessons more accessible for deaf children;

- Speak naturally and clearly at your normal pace and tone of voice

- Work with the child's preferred communication style

- Get the child's attention before speaking, so that they can clearly lipread 

- Try not to cover your face and as you are speaking

- Why not learn some sign language as a class, this will interest the children greatly and offer a very useful skill!

- Have the teacher repeat what other children are saying so that these comments are not missed

- Avoid having your back to a window

- Ask all children to speak one at a time, putting their hands up when they have something to say, this makes the communication easier to follow

- There may be the need to provide some extra clarification about new topics; in particular when there is new vocabulary and concepts - these extra explanations will in turn benefit the other children

- Try not to talk and write on the board at the same time, as this can make it very difficult for a deaf child to lipread

- Be gestural and visual when explaining concepts and use your face to express meanings, this will aid the communication adding another layer of context

- Encourage the children to say when they do not understand something, as sometimes deaf children will nod and smile even if they have not understood

- Ensure effective communication between school and home so that the schoolwork can be continued and added to at home

- Remember that some deaf children do not have access to all of the auditory sounds around them

- It is helpful for deaf children to have a mix of peer group so that they do not become too dependent on one or two other children 

What next?

In the NDCS Deaf Friendly Schools guide, a teacher of a mainstream class is quoted saying the following "It was really useful having a deaf awareness session, I feel more confident that I can cope with a deaf child in my class".

- Deaf Awareness Training is one of the many training services that we provide here at terptree.  

Attendees have found that they have learnt a lot in such a short time and that it has really been of great benefit; giving them the confidence and skills to communication with deaf people. 

If this is something that you feel you or your school would benefit from, get in touch with terptree today at training@terptree.co.uk !

- terptree also offer a BSL Bitesize package for schools.  
BSL Bitesize is a fantastic 5-week course that covers the basics of British Sign Language (BSL). Working in small groups using a variety of fun techniques, students will gain a basic conversational level of BSL.

This 5-week course can be for either teachers or children or BOTH and covers topics such as classroom signs, hobbies, family, food and drink and any other topics you would like to cover.  For more information, contact us at training@terptree.co.uk 

- NDCS are running a sponsored Fingerspellathon in October 2012, where children are sponsored to learn the fingerspelling alphabet.  By getting your chosen school involved you will be helping to raise money to support deaf children in reaching their full potential  Click here to register today.

Information for this article has been taken from the NDCS 'Deaf Friendly Schools' publication which can be requested by calling 0808 800 8880.  Also available is the publication 'Deaf Friendly Teaching'

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