What is a Specialist Support Professional (SSP)?

Specialist Support Professionals are usually recommended when assessing Deaf students.

This professional works in a tailored way to support the individual’s needs and personal learning style.


This is what an SSP will work with the deaf student on:

  1. Planning workload.
  2. Structuring assignments.
  3. Support access to research sources.
  4. Support preparation for assignments.
  5. Giving advice on the use of the English language in essays.
  6. Provide the HEI with specific advice on making adjustments for the disability team and teaching staff.

The key aim is to enable deaf students to access their courses and assignments, as well as overcome any barriers to learning.

Universities are not experienced in delivering lectures in an accessible way for deaf students.  So, an SSP can work alongside the deaf student and University to ensure full access to the curriculum.


Who would use this service?


This support is crucial for students who use British Sign Language (BSL) as their first or preferred language.

BSL has a different grammatical structure:

English: What is your name?


So, if deaf student primarily uses BSL, they will most likely find it difficult to write in English.  This is because the BSL grammatical structure will seep into the writing.

An SSP can support Deaf BSL students in essay planning, structuring and revising.  This will support the student in reaching their full potential, as they will not be held back by a language barrier.

SSP support is useful for the whole range of deaf students.  Even students with hearing loss will find it challenging to access their education and curriculum.


SSP support during COVID


Whilst deaf students are learning remotely – it has become apparent that additional support is needed to make sure that this time.  Under normal circumstances, deaf students would use the time at the start and end of their lectures to clarify assignments and their understanding, as deaf students miss so much information during lectures.  This is a much easier way for deaf students to ask questions when they can access a BSL Interpreter for their session.

With the sessions being delivered remotely, this option is no longer available. And working remotely also means that deaf students become more isolated and unable to ask for support.

Having access to a professional who can guide the University through all of the changes and reasonable adjustments they will need to make to provide access.  Deaf students are often not aware of how to make these adjustments themselves as they have not been responsible for these through their education.


For more information about Deaf students’ concerns about going back to University, check out our blog post: Deaf Student’s concerns over face coverings at University.