Deaf Awareness & Communication at School

The Hawthorns School in Bletchingly, near Redhill, received funding from Surrey Deaf Children’s Society for a Deaf Awareness training workshop for their staff. The school is attended by two children with moderate to severe hearing loss, as well as several at any time experiencing glue ear (8 in 10 children experience this before age ten!) The teaching and administration staff are very keen to learn how to spot if a child is struggling to hear, and how to best support them so they contacted Dot Sign Language and asked us to create a training session to match their needs.

Kathleen explained how the ear works and the most common reasons a child is deaf or experiences hearing loss. She discussed how to spot if a child is struggling to hear, and importantly classroom communication tips. These include keeping unnecessary noise to a minimum, checking lighting doesn’t cause shadows (as this makes lipreading harder,) classroom layout, adding subtitles to videos and improving sounds acoustics.

When using lipreading there are some sounds which look almost identical on the lips – Did I say ‘pat’ or ‘bat’? Am I talking about ‘Sue’ or the ‘zoo’?! If you are a child relying on lipreading to assist your hearing it is essential that your teacher faces you, and that you can see the faces of classmates when working in groups.

Rita (interpreter) with Kathleen at The Hawthorns

Deaf from birth herself, Kathleen taught in BSL interpreted to English. She described her experiences at St Mary’s School for Deaf Girls in Dublin- very different to the mainstream school environment which many D/deaf children are taught in now.

There is an enormous amount of support for deaf children and those with hearing loss. NDCS (National Deaf Children’s Society) have a Technology Test Drive service which can loan equipment – a ‘try before you buy’ as every deaf child has different needs. Surrey Deaf Children’s Society is a group which supports Deaf children and their families. As well as funding training like this, they run events throughout the year – opportunities for Deaf children to meet. CSSEF (Chloe’s and Sophie’s Special Ears Fund) who we at Dot Sign Language LOVE, constantly fund raise in order to provide resources for Deaf children and their families at home and in school.

We were extremely pleased to be involved in this training session at The Hawthorns and encourage other schools to do the same. Contact us for more information.