I’m sure we’ve all heard of scouts/beavers or whatever variation you may know it as, and I’m sure many of us have also taken part as a child and young adults!
It can be fun collecting your badges and hanging out with friends; even when it’s wet and muddy, it will not stop us from having fun! Everyone is welcome to their local club, and everyone tends to love the environment and social aspects. But many members of staff within a scout group may never have come across a deaf child or young adult and thus may be unaware of how easy it is to equally include them in all activities and aspects of the group.
Therefore, we have taken inspiration from The Scout Association (http://scouts.org.uk/home/) to provide you with a post detailing all that you can do to ensure deaf youngsters have just as great a time as everyone else!
So How Do You Make Scouts Accessible For Deaf People?
Plan Your Programme To Include Them In All Activities
Now we know you probably already plan the activities and how the day is going to pan out. But it may be safe to say there are times when the plan is just to let the day flow, and everyone will know what is expected of them, such as at lunch. Ensuring the day and all activities are mapped out means that the children know what’s happening next; this can be especially helpful for a deaf child.
Ensure All Your Discussions Are Accessible
Something as simple as changing the format of how everyone is positioned can have a massive impact on how a deaf person can access the talk. For example, having people positioned in a circle allows deaf people to see everyone more easily and makes the conversations work better back and forth. Then having all the scouts lined up facing the leaders makes it easier for deaf people to lip-read and identify who is talking.
Allow Them The Choice
Like with all young people, and anyone in fact, you should never force anyone to do something they are uncomfortable with. Ask if they wish to take part. If they wish to, awesome now, just to make sure they enjoy themselves. If they don’t wish to participate, just ensure someone is there to keep an eye on those not taking part.
When planning, it is vital you take into the fact the support or facilities a deaf person may need. For example, if a fire alarm goes off, they won’t be able to hear it so they will need visual queues such as flashing lights. Also, when sleeping, they again wouldn’t hear the alarm, so positioning them nearer the doors so they can easily be alerted in case of a fire.
During activities, they will likely be unable to hear in certain situations, such as when rafting or rock climbing. So working out exactly what to do, such as cues, in these situations is key to keeping them safe and reducing any worry.
Keep Everyone Active
It is likely any deaf people attending scouts will be lip-reading throughout the events; therefore, keeping things moving and active is key to being deaf-friendly. Constantly having to concentrate on a speaker’s lips can get tiring; If there isn’t an activity for a while, it is important to have regular breaks to allow everyone to recharge their batteries.
Also, what child or young adult wants to be sitting around for too long listening to someone talk? Clearly map what is happening, explain the processes etc. and move swiftly on to the fun activities; everyone will thank you!
Communication Is Key
You don’t have to be able to know Sign language to communicate with a deaf person. For starters, who says they know Sign Language either?! People will have varying levels of hearing and understanding of a hearing environment. One deaf person may notice the change in speaker and gather the information from their environment as to where to turn next for information. Another deaf person may be completely unaware that the conversation has moved on or that there are new instructions.
Therefore generating cues for deaf Scouts that need them, such as gently tapping them on the shoulder and redirecting their attention elsewhere. This will reduce confusion in the individuals and help them better understand what is happening, in turn giving them the full access they are entitled to.
There you can download a deaf-friendly scouting guide.
If there are any topics/issues, you’d like us to discuss, let us know.