University of Edinburgh

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

Presented on Wednesday 9 December 2009

Deaf Awareness

Mary Whittaker

How well do you hear?

  • Classroom noisy - teacher talking
  • Teacher talking to the board
  • Teacher ask question - someone behind you answering
  • In PE moving around - teacher talking

Noises in classroom Examples:

  • Voices
  • Classroom noises
  • Dining room
  • Corridors
  • PE
  • Music
  • Ventilation
  • Weather
  • Traffic outside
  • Playground
  • Open Plan Building

"Hearing Loss"

Different levels Using hearing aids, Cochlear Implants, etc


How much can your pupil hear? YOU DON’T KNOW!

Hearing loss is complicated!

What is hearing loss? I can't tell you! Can you tell me what it's like to hear? No?

But I can tell you about... VISUAL NOISES!

"Visual Noises" - EH?

Deaf child – visual distraction
wall / background / clothes
leads to eye strain / fatigue

Also: Lights / other pupils/students "continuous water dripping" annoying "behaviour problem"

Visual noises

  • Deaf not always tell you
  • Be aware of visual noise can be a form of bullying

English Language & Deaf People

  • Impact of Deafness
  • Communication, Learning & Social Skills CAN BE AFFECTED depends on the individual person HOW?

Language Development

  • English is spoken language
  • Speech patterns & sentence structures
  • Words & sounds – may not hear
  • Written English – may miss out
  • Vocabulary – may be limited

Example: He work Mark till he go store room the firm supplied builders and DIY stores he work finished could be painted onto wood or store floors he had bad face eye and hand go hospital

Why is English Language difficult?

English Language acquisition

  • Age of onset
  • How acquire language? word or meaning?
  • Beware of parrot fashion!
  • Lipreading / residual hearing - inexactness
  • 'Pictures in mind' - "it look right"
  • Spelling mistakes eg; silver / sliver
  • Nonsensical or mixed up words eg; I eat volvo; chairwheel
  • Conjuctions / articles eg; and, the, a,
  • but Word endings (suffixes) eg; -s, -ed, -ing, -er
  • Punctuations - very confusing!
  • Tenses all mixed up!
  • BSL have time lines

Example: Finish operation finish I feel better my doctor thought maybe I go home next week hope back work soon

English Language acquisition

  • Questions / answers - seems out of context
  • tends to pick out words...

Example: Q: When you went to hospital how did you find your wife?
A: Thursday
Q: On Thursday at the hospital how did you find your wife?
A: I asked at the gate, he told me Ward 4

How you help with English?

  • Can be long, painful and difficult job!
  • Be patient and adaptable
  • Problem can be finding time!

Can you think of any strategies to help with English?

  • Read carefully - make notes
  • Look for clues of meaning
  • Talk with pupil/student
  • Explain
  • Report to teacher


  • If using BSL, explain in BSL 1st then look at English – think of English as 2nd language
  • Visual aids – including games (ask teacher) (learn best when fun!)
  • For vocabulary – keyword signing?