University of Edinburgh

Early years: working with deaf children and their families

Early Years: working groups

Over the period 2008-11 there were three sub groups looking at different aspects of early years work with the families of deaf young children. The sub-groups met in Aberdeen, Glasgow and Edinburgh with the chairs meeting by video conferencing. The group supports the development of a postgraduate certificate in Early Years work for health visitors, teachers of deaf children, audiologists, speech and language therapists, social workers with deaf people etc. We hope that this certificate can be developed here at Moray House.

1. Standards and training sub-group. Chaired by Brian Shannan, Educational Audiologist, Fife Sensory Support Service.
This group has produced the document:

2. Communication sub-group. Chair, Helen Reilly, Teacher of the Deaf, Aberdeenshire
This group has produced customised fridge cards from the Early Support materials developed in England.

3. Play sub-group. Chair, Kim Davidson Kelly, Speech and Language Therapist, NHS Glasgow and Clyde.
This group produced a DVD:

Scottish Standards for Deaf Children (0-3) Families and professionals working together to improve services

The Scottish Sensory Centre launched a document in March 2011, Scottish Standards for Deaf Children (0-3) Families and professionals working together to improve services, which promotes health, education, social services and the voluntary sector work to together more effectively in early years teams to support deaf children and their families in Scotland.

Since the start of newborn hearing screening in Scotland in 2005 families have found out that their baby is deaf in the first few weeks of their baby's life. Early intervention has the potential for improving language learning outcomes for deaf children. Currently there is wide variation across Scotland in the way early years teams meet and work. The standards document shows how the early years team should have the family at its centre as part of the team. The document contains a self-audit tool for early years teams to reflect on the extent to which they are family-friendly and offer informed choices. The standards have been produced by a group of professionals, parents and members of the voluntary sector using evidence from research and policy.

Positive play for every day: experiences of Scottish families with deaf children (0-5)

At the same launch the Early Years Play sub-group showed clips of the DVD they were producing with the help of Moray House's Blended Learning Unit. The DVD shows parents from a wide range of backgrounds playing with their deaf children in everyday situations, and reflecting on how they use play to encourage language development. The DVD has voiceovers/subtitling in a number of community languages and a British Sign Language version. The play sub group raised the £25,000 needed to produce the DVD from various donors. Every family in Scotland with a deaf child under 3 should receive a free copy.

Other Materials

The Monitoring protocol for deaf babies and children has now been renamed 'Developmental journal for deaf babies and children' and is available from the Council for Disabled Children.