Jul 11, 2019 by TNDCS

Chances are a deaf learner will attend your college … here’s some key pointers

The National Deaf Children's Society (TNDCS) uses the term 'deaf', to refer to all levels of hearing impairment from mild through to profound.

Many friends who work in education have told me they’ve never taught a deaf student. But the fact is, most educational professionals will teach a deaf learner – they just might not have realised it.

One of the main misconceptions is that assistive listening devices such as hearing aids or cochlear implants restore typical hearing levels. They do not. Such equipment improves access to sound, but students who use these devices still require learning adaptations.

Any level of hearing loss – albeit mild, moderate, severe, profound, in both ears, or in one ear only – has an impact on a student’s access needs. In light of this, the Welsh Government’s new (currently in draft form) Code of Practice indicates the eligibility of deaf learners for an IDP support plan.

As with any disability, the needs of deaf learners vary greatly. The National Deaf Children’s Society Cymru has a number of free resources specifically for FE professionals to help support deaf and hearing impaired learners (see www.ndcs.org.uk/post14 and further links at the end of this blog). However, here are some key pointers:

  • Deaf learners may use a range of different communication techniques. Some communicate orally, others may use sign language or cued speech, and some may use a combination of both sign and oral communication. Some deaf learners may use assistive listening devices and others may not. Find out more: https://www.ndcs.org.uk/?returnUri=%2finformation-and-support%2flanguage-and-communication%2fabout-language-and-communication%2f
  • Following a few simple communication tips can make a big difference. Find out more here.  https://www.ndcs.org.uk/?returnUri=%2finformation-and-support%2fbeing-deaf-friendly%2f 
  • British Sign Language (BSL) is a language in its own right with its own vocabulary and grammatical structure. It is important to ensure BSL learners are supported by an appropriately qualified interpreter.
  • Many deaf learners rely heavily on lip-reading. These learners are likely to need support from a note-taker since it is not possible to lip-read and write simultaneously.
  • For deaf learners who rely on their residual hearing, tutor room acoustics can be crucial. If a room has poor acoustics, assistive listening devices can be rendered useless. More information on creating a good acoustic environment is available here: https://www.ndcs.org.uk/information-and-support/education-and-learning/creating-good-listening-conditions/
  • Teachers of the Deaf are specially trained professionals who can help assess a deaf learner’s needs and access requirements.
  • Deaf young people can face particular difficulties in accessing employment. Young people have told us that they would welcome more support in finding out about Disabled Students Allowance, their rights as a disabled job-seeker and the Access to Work benefit. We will be launching some new resources to help with this in the near future… watch this space!

Want to find out more?

About the National Deaf Children’s Society

We’re the national charity dedicated to creating a world without barriers for deaf children and young people. We support for deaf young people and their families up to the age of 25.

Thanks for reading!

Debbie Thomas, Head of Policy and Influencing at the National Deaf Children’s Society Cymru