Six things you didn't know about deaf children

Here are some facts which may challenge your current beliefs or answer some of the questions you may have about deafness.

1.    All deaf children use sign language. FALSE.

Yes, some deaf children do use sign language, but remember there are lots of ways to communicate. Every deaf child is different and will want to communicate in the way that works best for them. Just ask them! 

2.    All deaf children can lipread. FALSE.

Becoming an expert lipreader takes a lot of concentration and effort that can tire children. Only about 30% of lip patterns are recognisable, and a lot of it is guesswork.

3.    Deaf children cannot enjoy music. FALSE.

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There are lots of deaf children who love music. Some can hear music very well with help, others may not hear music fully but enjoy the vibrations. There is technology available to help the child in your care to access music, like Bluetooth devices (these use wireless communication technology and can be used with hearing aids and cochlear implants) and having lyrics added to iPods (see How deaf children can enjoy music).

4.    Deaf children can hear everything with their hearing aids in or cochlear implants on. FALSE.

Hearing aids can help focus sounds and make them louder, and cochlear implants carry sound directly to the brain. These devices are very helpful for some deaf children, but it doesn’t mean they can hear in the same way as a hearing child. Remember that a deaf child still needs your help in communicating clearly and effectively.

 5.    Deaf children don’t watch TV because they can’t hear it. FALSE.

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Deaf children enjoy TV as much as hearing children. Some like to use subtitles or radio aids. A radio aid consists of a transmitter (used by the person who is talking) and a receiver (used by the deaf child). A microphone picks up the speaker’s voice and the sounds are then transmitted by radio waves to the receiver (see How deaf children can enjoy TV).

6.    Deaf children can’t use the phone. FALSE.

Lots of deaf children can talk on the phone. Special amplified phones are available to help them, or others use text messages, textphones and other devices (see Deaf children and using the telephone).