University of Edinburgh

SSC/Adept Conference: Abstracts

view of a conference audience

Aiming higher for deaf students - What works? What could work?

Abstracts of presentations and workshops.

Keynote - Professor Greg Leigh, AO, PhD, FACE

Changing Educational Outcomes for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Children: Building on Early Identification

Over the last two decades, developments in a number of related fields have contributed to vastly improved outcomes for deaf and hard of hearing (DHH) children. Most notable among these developments have been the advent of Universal Newborn Hearing Screening (UNHS) and the increasing accessibility of cochlear implantation at very early ages. This presentation will consider the current evidence for the benefits of early identification and associated interventions in regard to developmental and educational outcomes for DHH children. The Australian experience provides an interesting case in point with greater than 95% of all children born in Australia completing a screen for hearing by 1 month of age and the increasing availability of evidence of outcomes for children who have received a cochlear implant early in their first year of life.

The evidence base suggests that there are considerably enhanced prospects for certain developmental outcomes associated with early cochlear implantation. This lecture will consider the evidence for earlier identification being associated with improved long-term outcomes across a number of domains with particular reference to the evidence for outcomes associated with very early access to cochlear implantation. In addition to considering the international literature, evidence reviewed will include data from the Longitudinal Outcomes of Children with Hearing Impairment (LOCHI) study. The LOCHI study includes more than 450 DHH Australian children whose hearing losses were identified through either UNHS or more traditional later methods. The study provides data for both children with hearing aids and those who have received cochlear implants with outcomes being assessed at multiple intervals from 6 months to 9 years of age (and ultimately beyond).

Information from across studies will be reviewed and synthesised to draw conclusions about the benefits of early versus later identification (and intervention) and to consider educational issues in the longer term. It will be argued that, even though more age-appropriate outcomes are increasingly the expectation for DHH children, there continues to be considerable variability in the nature and rate of individual progress. Such variability is associated with a wide range of factors that will be identified and considered. Given this variability, the role of effective early intervention remains crucial and it will be argued that there cannot be a "one size fits all" approach to intervention and education and that effective outcomes are not guaranteed by technological interventions alone.

The presentation will conclude by considering current best practice in regard to the combination, coordination, and delivery of professional services to DHH children in the context of early intervention and education.

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Keynote - Dr Audrey Cameron

Science and Maths in BSL Glossary Project's 10 years anniversary

The British Sign Language Glossary Project, run by the Scottish Sensory Centre at the University of Edinburgh, is a unique resource that provides access to signs of a range of scientific and mathematical terminology in British Sign Language for use in the primary, secondary and tertiary education of deaf and hard of hearing students and their teachers, communication support workers and BSL/English interpreters within the UK.

Over 10 years, the project has been collecting and developing nearly 1,500 new signs which are available online with definitions and laboratory demonstrations/ examples in BSL and English. The signs were developed using features of the productive lexicon working with focus groups of 26 fluent BSL users with expertise in mathematics, science, statistics, BSL linguistics and deaf education.

To celebrate the 10 years anniversary, I will show how the glossary project impacted different fields. In education, I will show the signs and BSL definitions help the teaching of scientific or mathematical concepts to young people who uses sign language and also how the glossary helped to increase access to the SQA exams. In public engagement, I will discuss how the exposure and impact of the STEM signs on the deaf community and the general public has increased by working with scientific institutions such as in the fields of astronomy and stem cells. Finally, I will explain how we worked with young people to develop the new BSL glossary app for smartphones and tablets.

University of Edinburgh, Scottish Sensory Centre, Edinburgh (

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A: Listening and Text Support

Video use in education - are deaf students being left out?

Natalya Dell is a deaf and disabled person familiar with higher education as both a student and a disabled students' adviser. Natalya is especially interested in assistive technologies and "Access to Communication in English (ACE)" for deaf people. She is a member of the CHESS Planning Group who promote good practice for deaf students via training and publication of guidance and run the CHESSFORUM Jiscmail list.

Background: Teaching staff in Higher Education institutions often show videos in classes and expect students to access video learning resources. These videos are often inaccessible to deaf students because they uncaptioned or only have poor quality automated captions.

Challenges: Not providing captions or reasonable alternatives to deaf students could be legally risky for institutions. Transcripts or asking an interpreters to relay audio content is not usually appropriate as the deaf person cannot look in two places at once. Professional captioning with 97-99% accuracy, high readability and good timings costs at least £0.85 per minute of video. Captioning 1 hour of video a week for 30 weeks could cost over £1,500 and requires a lot of administrative management. YouTube and other platforms can generate captions using Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR) technologies which many teaching staff do not realise are unsuitable for deaf students because of their poor accuracy, readability and timings.

Conclusion and recommendations: Institutions may only offer proper captioning to students who clearly need it and sometimes only selected content such as class videos. Charitable organisations might assist with captioning costs. In-house captioning services tidying up ASR captions may also be an option.

Institutions could promote the use of captioned material and only allow purchase of properly pre-captioned videos. If creation of video content is funded, build captioning costs into the bid. Teaching staff could be trained to tidy up the ASR captions of their own material, especially for short videos. Crowdsourcing of captioning by other students or via public platforms like YouTube might be a partial solution.

Alternatives to video materials meeting the same learning outcomes or providing additional academic support such as subject tuition and reading guidance may be offered to deaf students - which in some cases may be more effective.

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Subtitling Live Events through Respeaking - Increasing Accessibility for All

Zoe Moores studied languages at university and taught for many years in England and Japan before retraining as an audiovisual translator. Entering the field of media accessibility has allowed her to combine her passion for language with her interest in effective communication and equality for all. She is currently doing PhD research into how subtitles can be used to make live events more accessible for diverse audience groups.

Background: Respeaking is the process of using speech recognition software to create live subtitles, for example for the news and sports programmes on television. My research explores how respeaking can make unscripted live events (Q&A, walking tours, presentations, concerts ...) more accessible; this service could also provide educational access in and outside the classroom.

Methods: Focus group input (interviews and questionnaires) from four different groups is a key element of my research. Two are user groups - the deaf and hard of hearing audience and speakers of English as an additional language, who also benefit from subtitles. Two are service providers - respeakers and the venues that host events. At the start of the research, each group was interviewed to determine their core needs and wider expectations; these were used to develop a programme to train experienced TV respeakers to respeak at live events.
Drawing on action research methodology, two rounds of respeaking training follow, in order to develop effective and replicable practices and procedures. Focus group input is sought after each round, allowing the access provided to be evaluated and adapted accordingly.
I am working closely with Stagetext, a leading UK caption provider, to carry out this TECHNE-funded research project.

Findings: To ensure high quality access, the content and accuracy of the subtitles must be monitored, as must any delay in them appearing on screen. The diverse needs of the different focus groups must also be met. The ultimate outcome of this research is a set of guidelines for creating accessible respoken events, replicable in diverse settings and across languages.

Conclusion: Key priorities for access through respeaking will be presented, as will the progress of the training so far. Potential uses of this service within education will also be explained.
I am very interested in audience feedback and potential future collaboration.

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The impact of dynamic soundfield on attainment and speech discrimination within the primary education system using a mixed study design

Brian Shannan is head of deaf education and educational audiology for Fife Council. He is course tutor for the Audiology course in the Postgraduate Diploma in inclusive education (deaf learners) at the University of Edinburgh and acts as one of the placement tutors too. His PhD research is investigating the impact of soundfield systems on speech perception in classrooms.

Background: Research suggests that noise has a detrimental impact on speech perception and academic performance, especially in areas such as literacy and information processing, which differentially effects young learners and those with additional support needs. One classroom based technology that potentially mitigates the effects of poor room acoustics is a soundfield system. The overarching questions that guided my study was whether there was a significant improvement in learning achievement and speech discrimination for Primary 3 learners from the 20% most affluent and deprived areas of Scotland exposed to dynamic soundfield amplification in their mainstream classrooms.

Methods: A pre-test/post-test longitudinal quasi-experimental study design was used to determine whether there was a significant improvement in learning achievement. A repeat measure design was deployed to assess the impact of dynamic soundfield on speech intelligibility scores. Both study designs used the same Primary 3 cohort that were placed in multiple control and intervention classrooms.

Findings: This presentation will discuss the study design. As this is part of an ongoing PhD, the findings will be published at the start of next year.

Conclusion: The continued attainment amongst gap amongst those living in the most deprived areas of Scotland have been the focus of interest for researchers, educators and those in government. This research will provide quantitative data on the effectiveness of using a dynamic soundfield system to improve educational attainment levels. It will also contribute to the issue of access and inclusive technology for new and refurbished schools.

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B: Interpreters in Education

The communication access of deaf and hard of hearing students during lectures: A case study

Dr Magda Nikolaraizi is an Associate Professor in the education of deaf and hard of hearing students at the Department of Special Education in the University of Thessaly in Greece. Also, she is the coordinator of the accessibility centre at the University of Thessaly. Her research interests concern issues of accessibility and self-advocacy with an emphasis on deaf and hard of hearing students.

Background: Students who are deaf or hard of hearing (SDHH) constitute a heterogeneous population with diverse communication styles and language profiles. Considering the diversity of SDHH, it is a challenging task to design and provide accessible lectures, which allow SDHH to communicate and participate equally as their peers who are hearing. This paper concerns a case study, which examined the communication access of SDHH during lectures in a higher education institution.

Methods: This case study took place in a higher education institution where three Deaf students were enrolled. The two students communicated in Greek Sign Language. The data collection lasted for two academic years and included participant observation of 36 lectures of four different modules in two different Departments. During each lecture a researcher, who acted as a peer tutor kept field notes regarding the communication behaviour of all parties involved in the lectures, including the lecturers, the SDHH, the students who were hearing and the interpreters.

Findings: The qualitative analysis of the data indicated that the lecturers and the hearing students used several practices that impeded the communication access of the students who were Deaf. The students themselves who were Deaf never complained regarding these practices. Furthermore, the lectures and the interpreters had discrete roles and a low awareness of the needs of each other, which caused further communication barriers in the access of the students who were Deaf.

Conclusion: In the discussion, the emphasis is placed on the role of deaf awareness of faculty teachers and hearing students in higher education, the importance of collaboration between sign language interpreters and faculty teachers and the need for self-advocacy training of SDHH, which altogether could improve the communication access of SDHH during lectures in higher education institutions.

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Interpreter continuity: the benefits and the challenges

Dr Rachel Mapson is a qualified BSL / English interpreter who works both as a freelance interpreter, often in educational settings, and at Queen Margaret’s University, Edinburgh. Her PhD investigated politeness in BSL/English interpreting situations.

Background: Continuity of interpreter provision is a much overlooked resource when considering the effectiveness of interpreting and communication support, but one that may be particularly relevant to the needs of Deaf students. This paper explores how relationships created through previous interactions influence the interpreting process and how prior knowledge generated through past shared experiences is a positive influence in interpreted interaction.

Methods: Data were collected in two qualitative studies on the interpretation of im/politeness. Semi-structured interviews with five Deaf professionals explored how their use of im/polite language might alter when communicating through an interpreter. Further data on interpreting im/politeness were generated through semi-structured group discussions involving eight experienced BSL/English interpreters.

Findings: Data illustrate the many affordances that interpreter continuity generates for all those involved in interpreted interactions. The Deaf participants discussed how familiarity with an interpreter influences their production of BSL; expressing a preference for working with interpreters they knew well. For interpreters, familiarity influences choice of vocabulary, register and intonation in the target language, allowing them to craft individually-tailored and situationally-nuanced interpretations.

Conclusion: Interpreters value the understanding of relationships and subject matter that continuity affords. This contrasts with the difficulties all participants described when familiarity is lacking. The additional effort for the Deaf person, and increased cognitive demand for interpreters, has implications for BSL interpreting provision in further and higher educational settings, where continuity of interpreter provision may be problematic. The additional effort required when such regular support is lacking may impact on the energy levels of the student and those working with them, as well as the quality of the interpretation provided. The paper will point to systemic barriers to interpreter continuity, and potential strategies that could be adopted for short and longer term solutions to these challenges.

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The representation of deaf children to their teachers

Professor Jemina Napier is Chair of Intercultural Communication and Head of the Department of Languages & Intercultural Studies at Heriot-Watt University, and is a sign language interpreter, educator and researcher. She has worked as an interpreter since 1988, and is professionally qualified to work between English and BSL, Auslan and International Sign. She has conducted a wide range of research on signed language interpreting in different contexts, including educational, medical, legal and video remote interpreting. She was joint Principal Investigator with Prof Alys Young and Co-investigator Rosemary Oram on the AHRC funded ‘Translating the Deaf Self’ project.

Background: Deaf children are increasingly educated in mainstream settings, some with access to classroom discourse through the provision of sign language interpreters or communication support workers for children who use a signed language. Previous research has shown that the provision of such communication support provides an ‘illusion of inclusion’ as access does not guarantee participation or learning (see Russell & Winston, 2014). Two studies, for example, have revealed that deaf children do not have the opportunity to respond to questions in class, due either to interpretation lag time or interpreters’ summarising strategies to keep up (Leigh, et al, 2015; Grimes & Cameron, 2005). Other studies have shown that interpreters take on several roles in the classroom and school environment with deaf children, and that deaf children come to rely on their interpreters to experience any kind of interaction with others (see Smith, 2014). None of these studies, however, have considered how deaf children are represented and become known through interpreters. Deaf sign language using children in classrooms experience a translated self - they are represented to their teachers and to other hearing classmates through interpreters. For some, they are only known through interpreters; for others who use some spoken language in some interactions, self-representation and representation through a third party combine in complex ways.

Methods: This paper will present data from the ‘Translating the Deaf Self’ project, where deaf adults were interviewed about their experiences of being known to hearing others mainly or exclusively through translation, how they feel about it, and what strategies they use to cope with it and the impact on wellbeing and agency. Interviews were also conducted with interpreters and hearing colleagues as part of the project.

Findings: In this presentation we will consider how the main findings of the Translating the Deaf Self project might apply, and have implications for, deaf children in the school environment with respect to teaching and learning and socio-emotional development. We will draw parallels with comments made by deaf children, interpreters and hearing mainstream classroom teachers in an Australian study of interpreted classroom interaction (Napier, 2013; Leigh, et al, 2015).

Conclusion: Questions will be asked about what deaf students, teachers and interpreters can do to ensure that deaf children are adequately represented to their teachers, so that teachers can make accurate assessments of the child’s learning and development in the classroom.

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C: IT Workshop

Deafness Cognition and Language (DCAL) Assessment Portal Workshop

Dr. Wolfgang Mann is a Reader in Special and Inclusive Education at the University of Roehampton where he teaches on issues related to child development and research methods. Wolfgang’s research interests include sign language acquisition and assessment, dynamic assessment within a language learning context, and digital literacy.

Background: The DCAL assessment portal ( is a web-based collection of tests that were developed during research carried out by the Deafness Cognition and Language Research Centre at University College London (UCL). These include tests for deaf children and deaf adults as well as tests for deaf signers who have brain injury, brain disease, stroke, dementia or language impairment. The aim of the portal is to enable professionals and researchers to conduct assessments of deaf adults and children.

Description of Activities: The workshop will introduce attendees to the DCAL assessment portal and give them the opportunity to try out some of the web-based tests.

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Keynote Address - Dr Audrey Cameron

Ten year review of the BSL Glossary Project

D: Working with Deaf Students

The challenges for D/deaf teachers wishing to become teachers of the deaf

Conor Mervyn is a peripatetic teacher of deaf children in East Renfrewshire. He co-ordinates the Scottish Facebook group for deaf teachers and is an active member of the UK group too.

Background: The issues facing D/deaf people wishing to become teacher trainees in Scotland led to the establishment of a Scottish based support forum following a similar support group U.K.wide. The group is used to support D/deaf people wishing to train as a teacher or as a teacher of the deaf. A D/deaf-led forum can relay advice and guidance to D/deaf peers who hit barriers during teacher training.

Description of Activities: The group is a support group that communicates via email or Facebook messenger forum to raise awareness or discuss issues affecting D/deaf peers and promotes awareness of jobs available within Scotland.

Challenges: Two issues will be discussed:
Issues of gaining qualification to be a teacher
Lack of awareness in universities
No reasonable adjustment for D/deaf teachers in terms of placement - currently most or all must be in hearing environments
Mainstream professionals and Teacher Training Institutions have little awareness of barriers faced. It could be possible for Deaf teachers to be assessed by a deaf peer if possible in deaf schools or mainstream
Lack of support for placements

Issues for qualified teachers of the deaf
Indirect institutional discrimination i.e. local authority services apparently not wanting deaf candidates in post
Not invited to interview despite experience or qualifications
Most ToD posts are not advertised - workforce stays the same
Lack of understanding in the field about the positive role a deaf person can have within the profession amongst colleagues, families and pupils.

Conclusion: The Deaf Teachers Group is working closely with one university at present to improve attitudes and access to initial teacher education. Some signs of progress: e.g. GTCS has agreed that Higher English can be achieved by the end of the Initial Teacher Education course, fluency in BSL is seen as an asset.

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Analysing the 2016 survey of Teachers of deaf children in Scotland

Rachel O’Neill is programme director of the MSc Inclusive Education at the University of Edinburgh where she teachers on the Postgraduate Diploma that qualifies teachers to teach deaf children. Her research interests include the school achievements of deaf children, online reading comprehension and BSL curriculum terms and definitions.

Background: The Education and Culture committee within the Scottish Parliament held an inquiry into the achievements of pupils with a sensory impairment in 2015, following research from the University of Edinburgh that deaf pupils’ achievements at school lag behind school leavers as a whole. The Scottish Government commissioned a survey to establish the age profile, qualification status and additional professional skills of teachers of deaf, visually impaired and deafblind children.

Methods: A steering group led by the Government drew up the survey, which was distributed electronically to all 32 local authorities. Local authorities asked teachers of deaf children to self-assess their sign language level. All local authorities sent a return. Results were checked and analysed by the Scottish Sensory Centre.

Findings: The survey shows that there are 185 teachers of deaf children in Scotland, of whom 65% are qualified and 17% were in training. The remaining 18% were not fully explained. The median age of the teachers of deaf children is 50, 7 years older than the Scottish median for all teachers. The proportion of teachers working with signing children was 57%, but only 9% had BSL qualifications equivalent to a Higher or above. Authorities reported why they didn't have more teachers with fluent signing skills as due to the cost, lack of courses and lack of supply cover.

Conclusion: There is an urgent need to recruit younger teachers of deaf children, and to find more who start with higher levels of BSL skills. Although the proportion of all deaf children who use any sort of sign is only 12% in Scotland, a high proportion of teachers work with them, so it is important to establish fluency for this group, i.e. from Level 3 upwards. The results are significant in light of the BSL (Scotland) Act 2015 and the first National Plan, now being drawn up.

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Supporting effective working relationships in mainstream classrooms: the role of the teaching assistant

Dr Jackie Salter is the leader of the MA Deaf Education (Teacher of the Deaf) programme at the University of Leeds and contributes to the MA Special Educational Needs programme. Her doctoral research focused on the learning experiences of deaf students in mainstream secondary classroom from a holistic perspective that recognises the complex and nuanced influences that shape the environment.

Background: This paper presents findings from a study that investigated teaching assistants’ (TA) perspectives of deaf students’ learning experiences within a mainstream secondary school and proposes a new model for their deployment in such settings. The majority of deaf students in the UK are educated within mainstream schools and they continue to underachieve in all curriculum areas when compared with their hearing peers.
The role of the TA in raising pupil attainment has been scrutinised and raised doubts about its effectiveness. However such research has predominantly focused on primary school practice and generic groups of pupils with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND).  This study examines the role of the TA in supporting deaf students learning experiences in mainstream secondary classrooms.

Methods: A qualitative, collaborative methodology was developed that facilitated a trustworthy approach to the collection of data that accurately represented the TAs’ perspectives. Consideration was given to how the TAs talked about learning and the challenges they perceived deaf students encountered in the classroom as a result of their deafness

Findings: Two key findings emerged. First the TAs described deaf students as regularly engaging in lesson delivery through a mediated learning experience i.e. they were presented with the lesson content by an individual, other than the teacher, who would invariably reinterpret  the teacher's input. Secondly the TAs were explicit in their belief that mainstream teachers were frequently unaware of the particular challenges deaf students experienced during lessons.

Conclusion: Together these findings indicate that the presence of the TA may be limiting the opportunities for the teacher and deaf student to develop an effective working relationship and for the teacher to develop an understanding of the deaf student’s learning experience. A new model for the deployment of the TA is proposed that facilitates more effective collaboration to support deaf students’ learning.

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E: BSL and Schools

Examining the process of creating new signs in BSL for science and maths concepts

Gary Quinn is Assistant Professor in the Department of Languages and Intercultural Studies at Heriot-Watt University. He has been an active member of the BSL glossary project as the sign linguist in the development teams since 2007. He has presented many science shows in BSL with Audrey Cameron.

Background: Deaf children in Scotland can view their exam papers in sign and sign their responses, usually sitting the exams individually with a support worker or teacher who signs. In Scotland 11% of deaf pupils use some sort of sign (CRIDE, 2015). The BSL Glossary Project, run by the Scottish Sensory Centre at the University of Edinburgh focuses on developing scientific and mathematical terminology in British Sign Language for use in the primary, secondary and tertiary education of deaf and hard of hearing students in the UK. Thus far, the project has developed over 1,400 new signs. The glossary is regularly used by deaf students and their teachers/lecturers, communication support workers and interpreters.

Methods: The signs were developed by a focus group with expertise in science and mathematics, BSL linguistics and deaf education all of whom are deaf, fluent BSL users. We will outline our methodology for collecting and creating new signs for scientific and mathematical concepts.

Outcomes: We will show the importance of setting a ‘root’ or ‘base’ sign which can be modified using inflectional morphology to change the meaning. For example, we set the sign MASS as a ‘root’ sign and then by adding the other hand under MASS and using downward movement, the sign becomes WEIGHT. DENSITY is signed by using the other hand to cover MASS using an opening and closing movement, indicating volume.

Conclusion: We will show various ‘root’ or ‘base’ signs and their inflected versions, to exemplify the concepts of the terms being signed. In addition, we will show the most recently developed Stem Cell signs.

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Including young Deaf people in the British Sign Language (Scotland) Act 2015.

Alison Hendry is the Youth Participation Officer at Deaf Action. Deaf herself and bilingual in BSL and English, Alison works closely with deaf young people on the Young People’s National Advisory Group, contributing towards the first national BSL plan.

Background: This presentation describes an ongoing project led by Deaf Action working as part of the Deaf Sector Partnership in increasing and improving participation for young deaf people in Scotland around the BSL (Scotland) Act 2015. After the BSL (Scotland) Act 2015 was passed, Scottish Ministers decided to set up a BSL National Advisory Group (BSL NAG), of which three young Deaf people under 18 are involved. These three individuals were elected from a wider Youth NAG feeder group and are supported by the Youth Participation Officer (Alison Hendry). During NAG meetings, it is these three YNAG representatives, who are reflecting the views of other young D/deaf people around Scotland as opposed to adults speaking on behalf of young D/deaf people.

Description of Activities: The Youth Participation Officer’s remit covers Scotland and responsibilities include organising and facilitating workshops for young D/deaf people aged 10-18 and engaging directly with young D/deaf individuals and groups. Direct support has also been provided to the Youth NAG representatives within the context of the NAG meetings and activity, and beyond.

Challenges and Outcomes: There have been a number of challenges and outcomes around this work - such as reach and peer engagement. The presentation will look at specific examples in detail, highlighting achievements and outlining the challenges so that they can be avoided or tackled early on when working with young D/deaf people.

Conclusion: The presentation will close by summarising the overall learning from the youth participation activity and give specific recommendations that will inform work and engagement with young D/deaf so that they can engage and participate to their maximum potential and play their part in influencing society and improve their own lives and that of their peers and future generations. We will also briefly outline how the BSL National Plan can impact on young D/deaf people

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Deaf Roots and Pride Project

Sue Barry is project manager with the British Deaf Association of the Deaf Roots and Pride Project. Based in Northern Ireland, the project has now extended to Scotland too.

Background: Deaf Roots and Pride is a lottery-funded project initially delivered in BDA Northern Ireland and now throughout the UK. It has produced interesting results (achieving UK recognised approved provider “Mentoring and Befriending” benchmark) that could provide a template for others to consider. We know the issues that young Deaf people deal with especially because 85% of school-aged Deaf children attending mainstreamed schools with no specialised provision can experience higher risk of psychological, behavioural and emotional problems. Targeted intervention and support is crucial for Deaf C&YP in a hearing-orientated world where the ability to hear is considered a necessity to function in everyday life.

Description of Activities: This presentation will cover how we offer an opportunity for isolated deaf young people in mainstream settings, to appreciate they are not alone: Deaf peers can give support/guidance and we aim to break the segregation and bring our young deaf people together.
DRP project has four key elements: Mentoring, Transitions, Signposting and Culture. Each will be explained/demonstrated on their part in raising the Deaf child’s self-awareness and developing a positive outlook about being deaf. This includes parents who undergo developing a new awareness about their child’s potential and they too develop a positive outlook about the future.

Challenges and Outcomes: The presentation highlights issues and barriers in trying to reach this isolated group e.g. resistance from Education authorities who favour the traditional oral approach, different approaches and tactics to help overcome this. Success stories include recognised qualifications for Mentors, journeys with mentors and their families and family life transformations.

Conclusion: So great was the success that we now have a spin off project called “Give me BSL” in Scotland. This project provides new approaches to parenting and family capacity with regard to sign language, allowing parents to become more empowered and give their Deaf children aged 0-7 the best start in life.

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F: Presentation/Discussion

Academic Performance of Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing (DHH) Students in the Sign Bilingualism and Co-enrolment in Deaf Education (SLCO) Programme, Hong Kong

Chris Kun-man Yiu is the Senior Programme Officer of the Centre for Sign Linguistics and Deaf Studies, The Chinese University of Hong Kong. He joined the centre since 2007, mainly responsible for the development of the Sign Bilingualism and Co-enrolment in Deaf Education (SLCO) Programme in Hong Kong. He is now a doctorate candidate of the Education University of Hong Kong in Special Education. His research interest is to investigate how Deaf or Hard-of-Hearing Students develop in a sign bilingual and co-enrolment education setting.

Background: Academic performance of DHH students continues to be a major concern in different studies. Impaired hearing ability constrains their spoken language development, eventually supresses their academic development. With no exception, academic failure is a long-standing problem facing DHH students in Hong Kong.

The development of the SLCO Programme is to re-introduce sign language in deaf education in Hong Kong in an inclusive education setting, in which a critical mass of DHH students are studying full-time with their hearing peers, co-taught by a regular hearing teacher and a Deaf teacher.

Methods: Academic data in terms of school examination results and the equivalent grade levels projected a standardized assessment were collected from 4 cohorts of DHH (n=24) and hearing (n=510) students who had completed their 6-year primary education at the school. For secondary school students, in order to enhance the reliability of the school assessments on students’ abilities, item response analysis was conducted to compare the performance between 17 DHH and 242 hearing subjects at Secondary 1-3.

Findings: Results show that DHH students lagged behind their hearing peers but over 85% of them reached the equivalent grade levels (88% in Chinese and 98% students in both English and Maths) in the normative assessment. For the secondary school students, no significant difference can be found between DHH and hearing students at all three grades.

Conclusion: Using different approaches of data analyses to investigate the academic performance of DHH students in a mainstream setting helps to understand more thoroughly their classroom and normative academic status. Results supported that by including DHH students in a sign bilingual education setting the enhancement of information accessibility and the inclusive cultural created in class can effectively support DHH students’ academic development.

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G: Developing and Understanding Language Skills

Communities of practice: literacy and deaf children

Dr Ann Elise Kristoffersen is Head of Department for the National Support System for Special Educational Needs in Norway. Her research is focused on the early childhood experiences of deaf children.

Background: This paper discusses the concept of communities of practice as an aspect in early literacy development for young deaf children and is based on a study of literacy practices in preschools in Norway with deaf and hearing children. Research indicates the importance of early identification of deafness and the importance of early intervention. There is a clear link between early language skills among children in preschools and literacy skills later in school. Young children need to take part in significant literacy events where they do experiences with language and develop language and knowledge. Starting school with a basic literacy competence is important for all children but of particular consequences to deaf children who as a group is in a vulnerable position regarding literacy.

Findings: The findings from the study revealed that deaf children did not have adequate access to significant literacy events during preschools activities. This for many reasons. Language and values plays an important role as well as teacher competence.

Conclusion: In finding out what may facilitate literacy learning for young deaf children, we should pay more attention to the importance of participation, interaction and regularity for deaf children in their community of practice.

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Communication and language profiles of children with congenital deafblindness

Jesper Dammeyer is Assistant professor and head of a research unit at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark. His research interests covers psychological well-being, mental health and communication among people with deafness and deafblindness.

Background: To be born deaf and blind creates both communicative and language acquisition barriers for a child. Although case studies, research, and practical reports have described the severe communicative delay that children with congenital deafblindness (CDB) often experience, to date, no population studies have given a systematic overview of the characteristics of communication, language use, and language acquisition.

Methods: This study investigates modes of communication and level of language acquisition among 71 children with CDB from Denmark using the Rowland Communication Matrix and a questionnaire form.

Findings: Communication was distributed across modalities with 23% using tactile language, 32% oral language, and 39% visual sign language. With regard to the level of language acquisition, 41% used pre-verbal communication, 42% verbal communication (tactile, visual, or oral) but with delay, and 18% verbal communication (tactile, visual, or oral) without any delay. Similar heterogeneity was reflected on vocabulary count and score on the Rowland Communication Matrix.

Conclusion: Children with CDB are not a uniform group, and more research is needed in order to map out the diversity found. Support needs to be planned individually.

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Dynamic assessment of deaf children’s language and literacy - same but different?

Dr. Wolfgang Mann is a Reader in Special and Inclusive Education at the University of Roehampton where he teaches on issues related to child development and research methods. Wolfgang’s research interests include sign language acquisition and assessment, dynamic assessment within a language learning context, and digital literacy.

Background: The varying needs of increasingly diverse deaf learners in special schools as well as mainstream programs pose a challenge to both researchers and practitioners, specifically when it comes to assessment.

Methods: In my talk I will provide a brief overview of the relevant work that has been done on the use of dynamic assessment with deaf population and address possible consequences and future directions for teachers and teaching.

Findings: There has been progress in developing standardised psychometric tests that are (more) appropriate for deaf children, e.g., in form of sign language assessments. However, these tests continue to suffer from certain limitations: a) they provide information about a child's learning outcome but not the learning process, and b) provide little opportunity for children to contribute significantly to the assessment process.

Conclusion: I will present a framework for making dynamic assessment more meaningful for classroom use.

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H: Deaf Students’ Attainment

What does Government post-16 data on deaf students tell us?

Martin McLean is the Education and Training Policy Advisor for the National Deaf children’s Society where he campaigns on issues about deaf students’ access to college, university, apprenticeships and work. He is also vice-chair of Adept.

Background: The Governments of the UK publish annual data on the attainment and destinations of deaf students which provides us with a partial picture of the progress deaf young people make in post-16 education and training.

Methods: Post-16 datasets from each of the four UK countries have been collected and analysed by the National Deaf Children’s Society.

Challenges and Outcomes: There are considerable attainment gaps between deaf and hearing students in 16-19 education with smaller gaps seen for apprenticeships and higher education. There is a shortage of data on post-education destinations and levels of achievement in further education and the numbers that have dropped out of education. Additionally, we know that data is not collected for the full cohort of deaf young people. Differences between how data is collected between different countries of the UK can mean direct comparisons cannot be made.

Conclusion: Government data currently provides us with an indication of the overall progress deaf students are making in post-16 education year on year. This provides stakeholders with a measure of the impact of their work. However, further data is needed in order to gain a more complete picture of the outcomes of deaf students beyond the age of 16. The National Deaf Children’s Society and other disability organisations should work to influence Governments to provide breakdowns by type of disability for more datasets such as A-level results, types of qualifications achieved in further education, destinations upon completion and not-in-education-or-employment (NEET) statistics. Where data is currently broken down by type of special educational need, a breakdown by type of disability should also be considered to ensure attainment of a wider cohort of deaf young people is monitored.

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Educational outcomes for deaf and hearing primary learners from Scotland living in areas of social deprivation: the 'attainment gap', common themes

Brian Shannan is head of deaf education and educational audiology for Fife Council. He is course tutor for the Audiology course in the Postgraduate Diploma in inclusive education (deaf learners) at the University of Edinburgh and acts as one of the placement tutors too. His PhD research is investigating the impact of soundfield systems on speech perception in classrooms.

Background: Young children are more susceptible to the effects of noise and reverberation when understanding speech due to factors such as informational masking, underdeveloped phonological categorisation, and immature auditory selective attention skills. Deaf learners and students living in areas of deprivation are two sections of the population who have historically maintained lower levels of educational attainment compared to the general population. This paper will discuss a comparison between deaf learners and those from areas of social deprivation using standardised measures of assessment during the first 3 years of schooling.

Methods: Data on 501 hearing children living in the most and least deprived 20% areas (quintiles) are compared, with data on 324 deaf children supported by the Fife Sensory Support Service (deaf learners). National standardised assessments from the two cohorts were used from Primary 1 and 3.

The variables include the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD) from postcode, the standardised and age equivalent score from the computerised assessments, teacher assessments at each curriculum level, age of identification of deafness, degree of deafness, when aided, and the presence of an additional disability. Using a regression analysis we will examine the effect of age of identification, additional disability, poverty and degree of deafness in a staged model.

Findings: Data analysis using SPSS will form the next stage in the research and we hope to have preliminary results for the conference.

Conclusion: We expect our findings to have implications for the way local authorities allocate resources to deaf children. The skills held by teachers of deaf children in providing language support and intervention and adjusting acoustic conditions could have benefits for a much wider group of hearing children especially in schools in areas of deprivation.

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Unlocking academic potential in deaf learners by measuring listening effort

Helen Willis was completely deafened by childhood meningitis and has been a cochlear implant user for 23 years. She graduated from St. John’s College, Oxford University, with a First Class Honours degree in Physiology and Psychology, and an MSc in Neuroscience. Helen is now completing her doctoral research at University College London, jointly funded by Action On Hearing Loss and Cochlear UK

Background: Despite recent advances, assistive hearing devices are still unable to restore perfect hearing, so the deaf learner is constantly required to compensate for the missing auditory information. This creates an additional cognitive burden called listening effort (LE), which can lead to tiredness and exhaustion. There is evidence that this occurs even with mild hearing loss and that excessive LE can lead to both physical and mental ill health. Thus, it is possible that LE is impinging on academic performance, preventing many deaf pupils from reaching their full potential. However, no test currently exists to identify or monitor LE. Therefore, there are no means of evaluating whether the academic progress of deaf learners is being affected by the harmful effects of LE.

Methods: A series of prototypes of a potential listening effort test have been developed, based on the principles of behavioural testing using a dual task paradigm. All involve a primary listening task of increasing difficulty and a simultaneous secondary visual task. The sensitivity of these prototypes has been systematically evaluated and also validated using other measures known to be sensitive to LE (i.e. subjective ratings and pupil size measurements).

Findings: Increases in LE, as listening conditions become more challenging, are being detected in all prototypes, with the most recent exhibiting the most sensitivity.

Conclusion: Early indications suggest that it may be possible to develop a valid behavioural test sensitive enough to detect LE levels in deaf individuals. Once fully developed and implemented, this test could be used to monitor the impact of different educational, audiological and technological strategies on the experience of LE, thus providing evidence of ways to reduce this cognitive burden and helping to unlock the academic potential of deaf learners.

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I: Hearing Aid Technology

Hearing Aid and Radio Aid developments - workshop

Joseph O’Donnell has worked in deaf education for the past 30 years as a teacher of the deaf and an educational audiologist. He is currently working as a freelance Educational Audiologist supporting a number of education authorities, colleges and universities. He also supports deaf adults in Access to Work training.

“Hearing is a first order event. If we don’t hear the signal there is nothing we can do with it”
Carol Flexer

The different technologies deaf children use to access the spoken curriculum are crucial for their success at school. In this workshop we will look at some recent developments in hearing aid (acoustic hearing aids, cochlear implants and BAHAs) and radio aid technologies. Some of the challenges that remain will also be discussed.

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