University of Edinburgh

Learning Support Assistants working with Deaf young people in Schools and Colleges

Presented on Wednesday 9 December 2009

Supporting Deaf Pupils

Eileen Burns

Aims of the Session

  • Study some of the main barriers to learning experienced by deaf pupils caused by
    A) The classroom environment B) Being deaf
  • Reflect on your role:
    i Working with classroom teachers
    ii Working with pupils.
  • Share your experiences and learn from others.
  • Go away with ideas on how you can improve working relationships to:
    i benefit pupil learning.
    ii improve job satisfaction

Some Deaf Pupils' Mainstream Classroom Experiences

  • Speaking too fast for pupils to lipread
  • Speaking with their backs to pupils making lipreading impossible
  • Walking around the room
  • Having their faces in shadows
  • Expecting pupils to listen and write at the same time
  • Expecting pupils to hear perfectly with equipment/technology aids
  • Talking for long periods of time which makes it difficult for pupils to concentrate on lipreading

Deaf pupils are often isolated from groups as they find it difficult to join in and are unable to keep up with what is being talked about.

Stories of pupils getting embarrassed by having support staff with limited signing skills who cannot understand what pupils are trying to say. As a consequence this may lead to hearing pupils in the class thinking deaf pupils are stupid.

  • Over 90% of deaf pupils attend a mainstream school.
  • "the most dangerous move yet against the early development of a deaf personís character, self confidence and basic sense of identity" (Ladd 1991)
  • "the school belonged to others he was merely a special student" (Padden and Humphries 1999)
  • "Friends which you have things in common apart from being deaf are hard to come by" (Lane, Hoffmeister and Bahan 1996)



High Expectations!

First Language English (oral) - Sign Language

  • Lip read
  • Use hearing aids

Deaf children using either language have limited access to English.

An ESL type approach to learning English should be used

  • Introduce new vocabulary carefully
  • Use visual media
  • Seek advice

Deaf Role Models

"Tuesday is my favourite day of the week because Simon and Joanne come. They are both deaf like me, but Simon goes to college and Joanne work... Before I met Simon and Joanne I had never seen a young deaf person, everyone else I saw with a hearing aid was really old". Philip, 14 years old

The Unwritten Curriculum

  • Social inclusion must extend to the wider life of the school.
  • Communication must extend to wider members of the school community.
  • Lack of Incidental learning experiences
  • Extra curricular activities. " ...I can't stay for football because my taxi comes but I want to". Ahmed 11 years old.

Support for Deaf Pupils

"Sometimes I like to use communicators but sometimes I get embarrassed because they sit too close to me and I remind them that it's my work, not theirs".

My experience of the Support Role

  • Working with classroom teachers( a partnership approach)
  • Building relationships is a 2-way process.
  • Encourage forward planning
  • Agree the LSA's role with respect to discipline.
  • Involve teacher in pupil's learning.
  • Be sympathetic to the demands on the teacher
  • Knowledgeable about deafness.
  • Allow more ambitious learning experiences.

Working with Pupils. (dependence or independence)

  • Allow pupil to be a normal member of the class
  • Allow child to be naughty
  • Allow child time to think
  • Allow child to make mistakes
  • If the child is not coping: inform the teacher
  • Support rest of class
  • Be aware how few people deaf children might communicate with
  • Be a good source of information
  • Know about deaf organisations and activities