University of Edinburgh

Deaf Pupil Education and Social Services

Highland Deaf Children's Services

Sheila Lundberg (Education) and
John Gill (Social Work)

The Highlands

map of Highland region

The Challenges

  • The geography of the Highlands
  • The sparse and scattered population
  • The weather !
  • Equality of provision regardless of location
  • Scarce resources and small teams

Highland Deaf Children pre-1980

Highland deaf children pre-1980

The pre-1980 context

  • Removal from home at very early age
  • Poor relationships with parents and siblings
  • Frustration and difficult behaviour due to impoverished communication/language deprivation
  • Family guilt (and relief!)
  • Community and family exclusion


  • Highland Deaf Education Service created
  • New Head of Audiology
  • New Social Work Team for Deaf Services
  • New post of Specialist Speech and Language Therapist for the Hearing Impaired
  • Highland Co-ordinating Committee (Deaf Services)
  • Highland Paediatric Audiology Group set up

1995 ? 2004

  • Highland Co-ordinating Committee (Deaf Services) to become Strategic Advisory Group for Sensory Services
  • Highland Paediatric Audiology Group became Paediatric Working Group (Hearing Impairment)
  • Deaf Communication Project
  • Deaf Communication Service (Deaf Action)
  • Universal neo-natal hearing screen

Highland Paediatric Audiology Group now
Highland Paediatric Working Group ? Hearing Impaired

  • Audiology
  • E.N.T.
  • S.L.T.
  • Education
  • Community Paediatrics
  • Hospital Paediatrics
  • Social Work
  • Moray Education
  • Voluntary Sector
  • User Representative

Joint Working

  • Paediatric Audiology
  • Pre-school Group
  • Pupil Reviews
  • Staff Meetings
  • Single Strategy Working Group
  • Co-ordinating Committee
  • Deaf Communication Project Steering Group
  • Email
  • Planned Monthly Liaison Meeting

Shared Resources

  • Speech and Language Therapy Post
  • Sign Language Tutor
  • Support Workers
  • Activity Programme
  • Fairburn
  • Joint Training
  • DCP training opportunities
  • Access to each other?s libraries
  • Sharing of sign language resources
  • Teacher of the Deaf working with DCP

Keys to Progress

  • Enthusiasm and Interest
  • ?True? Multidisciplinary working ?
  • ?team? who work well together
  • One Audiology Department
  • 2 main Consultants for Deaf children
  • Small number of professionals

Working with parents

  • Answering Questions
  • Listening to Concerns
  • Working in a Partnership
  • Pre-school get-together
  • Activities Programme

deaf pupils in Scotland by Local Authority

Where Pupils Sign/Alternative communication
Caithness 25 (2)
Ross and Cromarty 45 (8)
Sutherland 24 (3)
Inverness 83 (15)
Badenoch/Strathspey 14 (1)
Lochaber 17 (2)
Nairn 4 (2)
Skye and Lochalsh 7 (1)
Total 219 (34)

Services to Highland deaf child

Positive outcomes

  • Improved family life
  • Most Profoundly Deaf children in Highland
  • Better academic attainment
  • Improved social integration
  • Less dependence on social work services into adulthood
  • Opportunity to remain in Highland

Strategic Planning

  • Strategic Advisory Group for Sensory Services
  • For Highland?s Children
  • Accessibility Strategy
  • Single Sensory Strategy Action Plan
  • Audiology Bids (PHIS Report)
  • Hearing Care Pathways


  • All services Highland- wide
  • Early diagnosis through UNHS (first in Scotland)
  • Effective multi-disciplinary working
  • Commitment and determination
  • Innovative
  • Political and social climate- DDA, Social Inclusion, Equalities Agenda

On-going challenges

  • Recruitment and Training
  • Staffing levels
  • Impact on all services, of increasing numbers and complexity of needs
  • Joint Planning and Resources
  • Deaf Awareness and Service Profile

The Future??

  • Implement Single Sensory Strategy Action Plan :
    Sign Language Tuition Service
    Strategic Advisory Group
    HDES Community School?
    Deaf Children?s Team?
    Deaf specific activities programme
    Access to mainstream activities
  • Highland Paediatric Working Group (Hearing Impairment)
  • Training, investment and resources that will ensure the sustainability of the services


For Highland?s Children

Fundamental principles (page 19):

  • ?a child?s race, culture, language and identity will be respected and promoted
  • services will be jointly commissioned to meet priority need
  • children will be actively encouraged to participate in their communities
  • inclusive approaches will be adopted and promoted?

Local Outcome Agreement objectives (page 24):

  • ? To support and develop the skills of teachers
  • to address inequalities, including with regard to?..disability, culture
  • to help every pupil benefit from education with particular regard paid to pupils with disabilities and special educational needs, and to Gaelic and other lesser used languages
  • to promote the involvement of children in play, culture and sport
  • to support children in need and their families and prevent family breakdown?

Liaison with other specialist agencies

  • Audiology /ENT
  • Speech and Language Therapy
  • Service for the Visually Impaired
  • Physiotherapy
  • Paediatric Community Nurse / Doctor
  • Health Visitor
  • Occupational Therapy
  • Voluntary Agencies
  • Educational Psychological Service
  • Social Work
  • Child Development Centre

Highland Deaf Education Service

1.0 FTE Co-ordinator
3.0 FTE Peripatetic Teachers of the Deaf
5.3 FTE Teachers of the Deaf
6.2 FTE Auxiliaries
2 Part time Sign Language Tutors
0.5 FTE Secretarial support

Deaf Services and Hearing Support Team

1.0 FTE Manager
2.0 FTE Social Workers for the Deaf
1.0 FTE Hearing Support Co-ordinator
1.0 FTE Sign Language Tutor
5.7 FTE Support Workers
1.5 FTE Secretarial support
Deaf Communication Project:
1.0 FTE Manager
0.5 FTE Clerical Support