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I'm a Teacher of the Deaf and hearing impaired myself, AMA.

28 replies

ToD101 · 16/05/2020 15:58

Along with one of my secondary colleagues, I thought I might try and balance some of the toxicity on recent education threads by offering an alternative teacher view. We're not all class-based and some of us specialise in SEN teaching.

I am a Teacher of the Deaf, employed by my local council. I work partly in a Hearing Resource Base, using space in a primary academy, and partly as a peripatetic advisory teacher.

I'm happy to answer questions on either deaf education, my role specifically, aspects of hearing impairment and what it's like to work with a hearing impairment.

I've name-changed so I can be as open as I can. Ask away!

OP posts:
overandunder9 · 16/05/2020 16:21

This is a lovely one to see. How do you feel about children with hearing impairment being in mainstream and what advice would you give to a teacher in a class with a hearing impaired children?

DCFaceCoverings · 16/05/2020 16:24

Hi, this is CV related I'm afraid! I have DC who are deaf and due to return to school/university.

(I don't agree that staff and DC should be forced back into education until everything possible is put into place which it isn't at the moment but leaving that aside) My concern is that due to social distancing my DC won't be able to hear from 2m away and face masks/coverings will mean they can't lip read either. Obviously they can sign but not many other people can! My uni DC relies heavily on partial hearing (aided) and lip reading. At the moment they have no support in place as they manage but now I think they will now need it (possibly a note taker or CSW?)

Even dealing with the general public (transport/shops etc) when life starts to return to normal will be so hard for them unable to communicate as the majority of people don't know any BSL. Really they will need someone with them - it can't be me as I am shielded which is another problem!

I don't think there is any easy solution (maybe clear face visors - if that's the correct term). Another worry is that I am very vulnerable to CV (lungs) so if my DC return or go anywhere they absolutely must observe social distancing etc.

What are your thoughts on this current situation and face masks etc?

PS I feel angry that school staff are sent back with the government advising they do not require PPE even if they cannot adhere to social distancing, and for FE any PPE has to come out of their existing budgets. (I can show government advice if anyone doubts this). I fully support any staff who do not wish to return under these circumstances. It is also worrying that the government have nothing in place to protect shielding households but again, that's another thread I guess!

PPS I am very appreciative of my DCs support staff, especially at the moment. I hope other parents appreciate you! Thank you Thanks

DCFaceCoverings · 16/05/2020 16:29

Also (I forgot this sorry) do you feel that BSL should be more widely used and people encouraged to learn at least the basics? I would LOVE to see BSL as a MFL choice alongside French, Spanish etc.

I was thinking that people who find this thread interesting, but without personal experience of deafness, might be spurred to learn some BSL - I know there has been publicity of various people doing You Tube lessons etc and I saw a woman in the USA making clear masks for people too.

SiaPR · 16/05/2020 16:32

Are you finding it difficult now that many people are wearing masks? I think this has made me realise how much we all rely on facial expressions during communication, so it must be exceptionally hard for people with hearing impairments who are also relying on lip reading.

ToD101 · 16/05/2020 16:50

Hi, overandunder9.

How do you feel about children with hearing impairment being in mainstream

Difficult first question! It obviously depends on the level of hearing loss, when their hearing was identified as below normal limits, if there are any additional needs, what strategies need to be put in place to allow them to access the learning...

The majority of pupils I support are absolutely fine in mainstream. They generally have mild to moderate losses, sometimes temporary like glue ear, have hearing aids or additional equipment to give them good access to the teaching. They are generally working at a level that is in line with their ability.

However, there are some pupils I support who are part of mainstream classes for part of the time and supported separately the other part of the time. Generally they have more severe losses, diagnosed later so didn't have access to early language. There is much of the mainstream teaching that, even when adapted for them, they cannot access easily, so progress is slow when they are already disadvantaged.

I think it's great that hearing loss is given exposure and given a level of normalcy through hearing impaired pupils being in mainstream. I think having places where Teachers of the Deaf can provide some individual or small group teaching while the child remains in mainstream is a good solution.

Phew! Grin

what advice would you give to a teacher in a class with a hearing impaired children?

A non-exhaustive list of strategies below, although it depends on going into the classroom and seeing how it is first!

  • always get the child's attention before speaking to them
  • make sure they can see your lips/face as this is a big part of hearing too!
  • try to reduce background noise, eg. put scraps of fabric into pencil pots to deaden the sound, carpets and other soft furnishings help it not to be so echoey, don't call things out/give instructions while the class is transitioning from one place to another
  • seat the child somewhere they can easily see you/the board and ideally with their back to the wall instead of in the middle of the room
  • don't speak to the class while facing the board!
  • repeat answers or other things children say to the whole class
  • provide written versions of powerpoints etc. where possible (and depending on age/reading ability)
  • give the child time to think about a response to a question (I guess this applies to most/all children!). Sometimes it takes even me as an adult a few seconds to process what's been said, as I may not have clearly heard every word and my brain needs time to fill in the gaps so I understand, let alone time to think of an answer!

There are lots more things that can be done! As I said, it will depend on the classroom situation so we like to go in and observe before making recommendations. If you have any specific queries and don't know who to ask in your LA, just get in touch with me privately and I can point you in the right direction for your council!

Thanks for your questions!
OP posts:
ToD101 · 16/05/2020 17:14

Hi, DCFaceCoverings

What are your thoughts on this current situation and face masks etc?

I completely sympathise with your DC. While my loss is only moderate to severe and I do not require signing, I do rely on lip reading so worry about understanding if more people started wearing masks at work or out and about.

My thoughts are that it's a horrible situation to be in, but I don't really have any solutions for when they're out and about. I suppose it just highlights the fact that BSL should be taught more widely, or training for public services or customer-facing roles should be mandatory.

At uni, it will depend on their EHCP if they have one as to whether they may be entitled to CSW or note taking support time. And they would have to wait for the annual review and even then it would take time. My suggestion is that they request copies of powerpoints/lectures etc. in advance, which is a perfectly reasonable thing to ask for, and see if the uni are able to give them a note-taker (there may be volunteers they use) or if there is someone else in their classes who can share their notes.

do you feel that BSL should be more widely used and people encouraged to learn at least the basics?

YES! I kind of answered this above but yes, I really do think there should be more BSL taught in schools and a basic knowledge made mandatory for anyone in a customer-facing role.

There are around 12 million deaf and hard of hearing people in the UK, with around 150,000 of those communicating by BSL. But many more of those hearing impaired people would see an improvement in their communication and understanding if they were using signing in their lives, even if they hear with amplification.

I can hear with my aids, but when I am in a signing environment, like at work, it really makes a difference to my engagement in conversations and my enjoyment of being around people. In many group situations I find it difficult to follow spoken conversations and, as a direct result, I have become far more quiet and more likely to sit back when surrounded by people.

For anyone wishing to learn a little BSL, maybe with their family, there are weekly videos for 12 weeks from the National Deaf Children's Society.

Thanks for your questions!

OP posts:
Keastrogen92 · 16/05/2020 17:24

Hi Smile my 58 year old dad has recently suffered sudden and profound hearing loss following having covid-19 in March (consultant has suggested the infection may have caused its onset).
At the moment he mostly communicates using WhatsApp or using a notepad and pen, which is very slow and frustrating for us both. He tries to lipread with limited succss but we are trying to give him opportunitie to practise this skill so he can improve. Are there any apps or resources that you would recommend to help him adjust to life without hearing?

ToD101 · 16/05/2020 17:33

Hi, SiaPR

Are you finding it difficult now that many people are wearing masks?

Yes! I struggle to hear even if someone turns their head whilst talking to me, let alone covering their entire mouth the whole time!

There is a good short video that demonstrates how important lip reading and being able to see someone's face is. I will try and find it and post it.

Thanks for your question!

OP posts:
ToD101 · 16/05/2020 17:41

Hi Keastrogen92

Are there any apps or resources that you would recommend to help him adjust to life without hearing?

That must be so hard for your dad, I'm sorry to hear about his loss and so suddenly.

I would recommend RogerVoice for phone calls - they're free if it's a call between two people who both have the app. For general day-to-day chat, there are plenty of transcription apps but I like Live Transcribe personally. It can be a bit hit and miss if the person is talking quickly or mumbling, but generally it's fairly accurate and gives instant subtitles to any speech!

I do hope everything goes well for him. Sending him my best wishes. Thanks for your question.

OP posts:
overandunder9 · 16/05/2020 18:51

@ToD101 Thank you so much for your amazingly detailed answers. So much useful guidance there. Really appreciate it.

Keastrogen92 · 16/05/2020 19:02

Thanks for your help ToD101 I will download those for him when I see him next Smile

ToD101 · 17/05/2020 21:38

You're both welcome!

If you need any more help, as I said, overandunder, please do ask me. By pm if you want to be specific about your classroom or school.

Kaestrogen - let me know how he gets on with them! I do hope they help him.

OP posts:
maudspellbody · 17/05/2020 21:41

Hi ToD 101.

I am a peri with a Deaf DS.

It's lovely to see you doing this.

Just wanted to wave to a colleague Thanks

Elouera · 17/05/2020 21:49

Is it true that BSL is different from AUSLAN, American sign language, New Zealand sign language etc? Is there any mutual understanding of these, considering they are all English, or are sign languages as different as foreign languages to an English speaker?

I know some signs in AUSLAN (Australian sign language), but when I tried using them in Britain, no one seemed to understand me.

ToD101 · 17/05/2020 21:51

Hi and thanks!

I just think lots of people don't even know that ToDs exist, which is fair enough if you're not part of the Deaf community I suppose, but as hearing impairments are more common than people think, I do like to share what I know. If it helps someone or teaches someone then that's a good thing! Smile

OP posts:
ToD101 · 17/05/2020 21:56

Hi, Elouera.

Yes, the sign language for each country is different. They evolve in their specific countries so are specific. Even across English-speaking countries!

However, just like dialects, there are even differences in BSL signs in different locations in the UK. One English person's sign for 'toilet' could be very different from someone else's!

There are some examples of just the alphabet (finger spelling) from different sign languages across the world here

Thanks for your question!

OP posts:
sydenhamhiller · 17/05/2020 21:57

OP, thanks so much for offering of your time and expertise like this.

My 16 year old has a lot of time on his hands now he’s not midst GCSEs.

After someone came to his school to talk about hearing impairment (pre lockdown!) he’s very keen on learning BSL. I saw your link to you tube - that’s brilliant, thank you.

Are there any with a qualification you can recommend? There seem to be quite a few, and prices ranging from £25 to £500...

Thank you.

ToD101 · 17/05/2020 22:15

Hi sydenhamhiller.

It depends how much in-depth he wants to do. There are introduction to BSL-type courses, usually around six weeks or so to get an idea. There is a free two-session course and a short paid taster course here , which I haven't tried but it's either free or a small fee so perhaps good during the next month or two!

When courses start running again, he can do a Level 1 course. It's around a year long (it's measured in hours but usually 2-3 hours a week for a year, term-time) and has three assessments over the year. I would recommend finding one linked to Signature, as if he wants to continue to learn then he can get actual qualifications by taking their accredited courses. There are, of course, others, but my experience is with Signature!

You can also tell him from me that I wish I'd studied it properly when I was his age! There are plenty of opportunities for interpreting or translating in many different fields if he learns to sign (I saw an interpreter with a family at the Harry Potter Studio Tour - what a fab job)! He can even go and study it at university.

Perhaps one day our paths will cross!

OP posts:
TheDrsDocMartens · 13/06/2020 08:22
DressingGownofDoom · 28/06/2020 23:53

I don't want to ask you anything, i just wanted to say what a fantastic job you do. My son is profoundly deaf with CIs, our ToD has been a lifeline since he was diagnosed at 8 weeks. Can't imagine this journey without her guiding me.

Pandacub7 · 13/07/2020 20:26

What are some strategies for teaching EYFS and KS1 to read and write? How can I adapt my phonics lessons? Thank you😊

elliejjtiny · 19/07/2020 23:10

Just wondering if you have any tips for me to help my son who has glue ear. He is normally fine when he has his grommets in but his 2nd set have fallen out and it's going to be at least a year before he can have them replaced. He is 7 and just finishing year 2 but has learning difficulties and working about a year to 18 months behind his actual age.


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ToD101 · 04/09/2020 16:08


I don't want to ask you anything, i just wanted to say what a fantastic job you do. My son is profoundly deaf with CIs, our ToD has been a lifeline since he was diagnosed at 8 weeks. Can't imagine this journey without her guiding me.

I've just seen this my thread got buried in the watch list. Thank you so much for appreciating what we do! It's lovely to hear from the parents!
OP posts:
SubordinateThatClause · 04/09/2020 16:14

Hi. Thanks for this.

How do children with no hearing learn to read? Or rather, how are they taught? I feel very ignorant asking this but phonics was such a big part of it for my children. Thanks.

LadyCatStark · 04/09/2020 16:25

Have they let you out of lockdown yet? I work in the same sort of service (different role) And I’m chomping at the bit to get back to my visits 😭.

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