How to welcome a deaf student on their first day

The first day is always the scariest, especially when enterin something new. I remember clearly my first day at school, College, University and at jobs too. The positive experiences were where I felt safe, because people had made an effort to allay any fears I had. So, this article will talk about how you can do this for deaf students first day at University.

Communicating with deaf students 

Here is an example of a welcome/information gather email that could be sent to deaf students BEFORE their first day.
This has been written in Plain English to make the information easier to digest:

Dear ________________________

my name is _______________ and I work as a disability adviser at __________________.

The disability team are here to explain how you support students.

I am emailing you so I can learn more about what you need at university. This helps us give you support and makes everything go as smooth as possible for you.

These tell me the answer to these questions:

– How do you like to communicate?
– What works well for you at school or college?
– Is anything you’re worried about?
– Anything else you need to tell me?

I would like you to email me back with these answers.

If you have any questions here is how you can contact us:

Thank you

This is purely an example for you, to give some ideas for how you can lay out your written communication.

As you will see, we have used concise, easy to read sentences, left good-sized gaps in between and made the section with questions very clear through bullet pointing.

This is a skill that when implemented will benefit deaf students (and we would suggest all students!) in ALL communications with you. You’re making it easy for them to access the information, which removes any misunderstanding.



The first day 

The first day is the perfect opportunity to meet with the deaf student, to find out how things have been up until this point and to reassure the student that you’re there for them.

The reason to meet again on their first day to be there to answer any questions and to start to build up trust; so that if in future the student experiences any challenges or difficulties, they have somewhere to go and gain the support they need.

There’s been a recent poll by the National Deaf Children’s Society (NDCS), that has shown a lack of support in universities is leading to students considering leaving their degrees.

Then found that 59% suffered delays of more than two months and 28% waited six months or more.

Deaf students dropping out of university due to a time delay of up to 6 months to get support in place.


What next 

We would then recommend you meet with the student at the end of their first month, and then termly.

You can ask questions like:

– How are things going?
– Is there anything we can help you with?
– Are you happy with your supplier?
– Are you happy with your interpreters/support workers?

Always remember to arrange these meetings whilst the student has access to a sign language interpreter e.g. directly after a lecture.


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