University of Edinburgh

Preparing Deaf Students for Exams and Leaving School

Presented on Thursday, 7 October 2010

Assessing the needs of deaf students

Rachel O’Neill
Scottish Sensory Centre


  • What is the NATED Assessment Pack?
  • A deaf student's journey through FE
  • The range of access arrangements
  • Further staff training possibilities

What is the NATED Assessment Pack?

  • National Association for Tertiary Education for Deaf People
  • Links to FACE
  • The assessment team: tutor of deaf students, BSL assessor, audiologist

A deaf student's journey through FE

  • Initial
  • On-entry
  • Review
  • Early exit
  • Exit

Initial assessment

  • Before course begins
  • Information from school and from the student
  • Checking previous experiences of educational access

Initial: Audiology

  • Audiological information - why it may be needed & how to interpret it.
  • Audiogram
  • Speech test
  • Information about hearing aid, radio aid, shoes, CI, hearing aid clinic.

Initial: Core skills

  • Literacy and numeracy skills - why diagnostic assessment may be needed and the implications
  • Vocabulary range (eg; Nation's online assessment)
  • Grammar assessment (eg; pre-tests in Swan & Walter)
  • Free writing (eg; Burman's levels)
  • Reading assessment (eg; Edinburgh Reading test)
  • Numeracy diagnostic test (eg; Readwrite plus)
  • Non-verbal ability assessment (eg; Ravens Matrices)
  • Learning style discussion
  • Confidence with IT

Initial: communication skills

  • Why it may be needed
  • Speech / lipreading skills
  • BSL skills: who can assess?
  • Assertiveness in adjusting the communication environment

Initial: discussion with the student

  • Possible access arrangements
  • Electronic Notetaking
  • Interpreting
  • Additional tutorial
  • Hearing aid checks
  • Speech and language therapy
  • Language modification
  • Subtitling
  • Additional core skills
  • BSL course
  • Equipment
  • Deaf awareness for tutors and peers
  • Access for enrichment activities

On Entry assessment

  • Review initial assessment with student
  • Explore programme information
  • Syllabus and exam arrangements
  • Residentials - predict access needs
  • Work experience - predict access needs
  • Deaf awareness arrangements
  • Timetable and staff time allocated
  • Induction to access arrangements

Reviewing access arrangements

  • Weekly opportunities to review access arrangements
  • Deaf student meetings Plan review meeting with student in advance
  • Half-yearly review meeting: student, parents (if relevant), main tutor, reports from all tutors, action plan.

Early Exit Assessment

  • Dropped out
  • Got a job
  • Record student views if possible
  • Refer on and follow up

Exit assessment

  • Planning for work or higher education
  • Review of access arrangements
  • Second half of last year at college

Recommending access arrangements that are hard to find

Our view of what is possible for deaf learners changes over time. Should we recommend access arrangements which are not yet widely available? In my view this is the minimum:

  • A trained tutor of deaf students
  • A trained Electronic Notetaker
  • A trained Educational Interpreter

How can colleges make anticipatory adjustments?

  • Consult with local d/Deaf organisations
  • Train Electronic Notetakers
  • Find a BSL or ESOL tutor and train him / her as a tutor of deaf students
  • Run advanced BSL courses to feed into interpreter training courses
  • Record unmet need, don't hide it


HMIE (2006) Evaluating Inclusiveness. Livingston: HMIE

O'Neill, R and Laidler, A (2003) Investigating text support for deaf students in Deafness and Education in the UK: Research Perspectives, Ed Gallaway, C & Young, . London: Whurr

RNID (2005) Deaf Students at College. London: RNID

Swan, M & Walter, C (2001) The Good Grammar Book. Oxford: Oxford University Press