Deaf Friendly Schools Guide

There’s no doubt that your school years can certainly be a challenging time; growing up can be difficult, but it can also contain some of the best times of your life!

Who remembers your first day at school? Daunting right?

Who remembers privilege time (or whatever your free time to do what you wanted once a week was called)? Awesome right?

Or messing about in class with your friends. We know it’s not good practice, but we’ve all done it! (Come on, admit it!)

The fact of the matter is, whether you love it or you hate it, school is an integral part of a child’s development and the start of their journey into adolescence, which helps to form their views on the world and themselves.

So you’ve got to get the school environment spot on!

Every child deserves the right to an education and to feel safe and included whilst at school. If you’re working in education, you no doubt want to positively impact every student’s life.


There are specially equipped schools where the staff receive in-depth training on how to look after disabled students, and staff of mainstream schools will also receive various training on how to accommodate disabled students, kept up-to-date. But What If They’re deaf?

As you’ll know, deaf people’s communication methods range widely from those who use British Sign Language (BSL), to those who use speech and those in between.

There are more than 45,000 deaf children in the UK. So as you can see, it’s very crucial to consider how to meet the needs of deaf children, or a large young population could feel isolated at school. 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 accessible and inclusive as possible.


So How Do I Best Support A deaf Child?

We have compiled together a list of six helpful hints to make the school environment more comfortable and accessible for all deaf children:


1. Keep Both The Students & Staff Informed

The school day starts at 9:00am, well at least the lessons do! So with that in mind, you know that 20 minutes or during registration and assemblies etc., inform your students and staff on important matters.


2. You Could Simply Take 10 Minutes In The Morning every day Practicing Sign Language


When you have your staff meetings, inform them of the need to make the environment suitable for deaf people. Like with most people, we tend only to make changes once we’re directly affected by it, but if you make the necessary changes beforehand, you’ll reap the rewards, improve your reputation, learn vital skills and give greater inclusion to all!


3. Providing The Staff With Deaf Awareness Training


This will go a long way to improving access to information and inclusion for deaf people, and it doesn’t look half bad on a CV, either!

When you have a year and whole school assemblies, take the time to let your students know about deafness. Educate them in bite-size chunks and let them know how they can help their deaf peers.


4. Workshops For Teachers &Students


Every school and student will have a timetable, but there are always sections that don’t follow a direct pattern.

Once a week or so, you could refresh your student and even teachers understanding and awareness of deaf people’s needs. You could hire a deaf teacher or someone with vast experience in the field, on a temporary basis, to come in and create better awareness for the whole school. Making it fun with games, prizes and much more!


5. Learn Some Sign Language


Not all deaf people will use Sign Language, but you must educate your students & staff on the language for those who do. Children are naturally more inquisitive and willing to give things a go than us adults. So use this to your advantage and teach the children these skills fun and engagingly through topics and songs.

As mentioned earlier, maybe take the time regularly throughout the week to learn a bit of Sign Language. There are plenty of resources that can make it fun and aim at primary school level. Just learning a few simple Signs, such as hello, goodbye, and how are you, can make a deaf person feel far happier and included in school.

Also, it’s vital you provide the support that a deaf person, or anyone else for that matter, may need. So if a deaf family wishes to have a school visit and requires a Sign Language Interpreter, ensure the process is as smooth as possible to make them feel they are getting a great service. Not all deaf people require a Sign Language Interpreter, but they may need a notetaker, lipspeaker etc. Make sure you provide the Sign Language Interpreting Agency (like terptree with as much information as possible to provide the right support.


6. Ensure The Necessary Features Are In Place


When there’s a fire, you there is, right? You can’t exactly miss it, with the fire alarming beeping constantly alerting you to the danger.

If you’re deaf, however, you may not know this; if you can’t hear, how are you supposed to know? Just follow everyone else? Of course not!

Putting in place the likes of flashing beacons to signify a fire alarm will help alert deaf people of a fire alarm going off, making sure they clearly understand the procedure that takes place during such an event.

Pagers should also be considered when the deaf child is older and more independent, so if they’re alone, going to a classroom or in the toilets, they can also be alerted.

Asking the deaf person what language they’d like to communicate in and allowing them full usage of said form of communication. Suppose you’re in a primary school environment, having a Sign Language version to accommodate the English alphabet and words that are likely scattered over the walls etc.. Is a great gesture to give greater inclusion to deaf people.

This a nice short insight into some small changes that can dramatically improve a deaf child’s access to education!