It’s Deaf Awareness Week this week, and to celebrate we are continuing with our work to become a deaf aware school.
Our journey into deaf awareness began just a few years ago when George, who wears a cochlear implant, joined our Kindergarten. With some specialist training and support, our dedicated team of staff found new ways to teach and support George so he could stay on at King’s Hawford and enjoy mainstream education.
Fast forward to 2021 and King’s Hawford is now a very proud deaf aware school. We have two members of teaching staff studying for a British Sign Language qualification and provide regular opportunities for our pupils to see and use sign language.
Helen Willis, Year 1 teacher and one of the staff members studying for the qualification runs a popular weekly Sign Language Club and regularly uses sign language when teaching her class. She said: “We started using sign language to help George’s understanding, but it very quickly became something that the whole class would use and interact with. As well as using the British Sign Language alphabet we have some key phrases that we sign on a daily basis – the rate at which the children have picked it up has been amazing.”
To celebrate Deaf Awareness Week Miss Willis will be taking the opportunity to teach some simple sign language phrases to the whole school. She added: “I’m extremely proud that our efforts to support George and become a deaf aware school have been so welcomed not only by his classmates, but the entire school community.”
Thank you to Year 1 and the Ashford family for putting together this short video to teach us some simple greetings in British Sign Language.
Top tips for communicating with a deaf child:
- What is their preferred way of communicating? It might not be British Sign Language, it could be speech or indeed a mixture of both.
- Speak clearly and naturally: Try to avoid speaking slowly or too loudly as it will make lip-reading much more difficult. Talk as you normally would, but just make a conscious effort to speak clearly.
- A clear mouth: Avoid covering your mouth with your hands, or trying to talk whilst chewing or eating. Make sure your mouth can be seen clearly.
- Use visual clues: Use gestures to support what you’re talking about or point if it helps.
- Don’t give up! If it isn’t working, you may need to improvise. Writing it down can help, either by text, email or even pen and paper.
For a copy of the British Sign Language fingerspelling alphabet, click here,