Specialised skills key to helping deaf students thrive

The rise of inclusive education shows the need for qualified Teachers of the Deaf to support hearing impaired students, their teachers and the school community.

In recent years we’ve seen a shift to remove segregation between mainstream and special schools, and encourage inclusive education – an environment where students with disabilities and additional needs learn alongside those without, promoting that all children should learn together, regardless of their differences.

It’s becoming increasingly important for teachers to be equipped with the skills required to support the learning needs of children and young people with a range of disabilities and learning difficulties, including those students that are deaf or hard of hearing.

Deafness is a low incidence disability, with three in every 1000 children being fitted with hearing aids or receiving cochlear implants for a permanent hearing loss by the time they start school.

In Australia, between nine and 12 children per 10,000 live births are born with a hearing loss in both ears.

A further 23 children per 10,000 will acquire a hearing impairment that requires hearing aids by the age of 17 through accident, illness or other causes.

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A growing need for skills

More and more schools are recognising the need to have teachers skilled in supporting deaf students.

Following the invention of the cochlear implant, or ‘bionic ear’, in 1978 by Professor Graeme Clark, further advances in technology, coupled with a wide range of educational and communication choices, has led to the needs of deaf children becoming increasingly diverse.

Currently approximately 83 per cent of deaf students in Australia attend mainstream schools and are placed in regular classes.

Specialised teachers have the opportunity to develop inclusive environments
Specialised teachers have the opportunity to develop inclusive environments

Mainstream teachers are unlikely to have the experience, knowledge and skills to support deaf children to access the curriculum in a way that will optimise their experience and outcomes.

While there are countless benefits of inclusive education to all children research shows the learning styles and needs of deaf and hard-of-hearing students can differ greatly from those of their hearing peers.

The fast-paced nature, listening and language demands of mainstream classes can often leave those who are deaf or hard of hearing falling behind, highlighting the need for individualised programming and teaching methods or strategies if children are to achieve their full potential.

Teachers with specialised training and knowledge have the opportunity to develop an inclusive learning environment for children who are deaf or hard of hearing, helping them in the areas of language and literacy development and assessment.

An understanding of the social and emotional wellbeing of students who are hearing impaired are paramount and ensures teachers can offer the best support.

Article originally published on Pursuit

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