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Teachers must do more for mild and moderately deaf children

Published Date: 19 Apr 2016

We're calling on teachers up and down the UK to do more to stop the 20,000 mild and moderately deaf children in their classrooms from falling behind.

There is usually at least one child in every classroom with mild to moderate deafness, and they miss up to 50% of what is said throughout the school day. Less than half of these children will achieve five good GCSE results as a result.

Poor acoustics, lack of staff awareness and late diagnosis all have a significant impact on children with mild to moderate deafness. We've sent a new 'top tips' video to every teacher in the country to help them provide the right support.

Our video for teachers includes simple deaf awareness tips like:

  • Reduce background noise: Outside noise such as road traffic or children playing can cause problems. It’s important to close doors and windows. Turning off unused electrical equipment can make a significant difference. Screen hums and other electrical equipment can make it more difficult to hear speech.
  • Make sure children can read your lips: Make sure the classroom is well lit. Make sure all children can see their face and mouth clearly.
  • Get a child’s attention: If a teacher has to call a child’s name three times they may not be misbehaving – they simply may not have heard. So teachers must get the child’s attention before talking to mild and moderately deaf children. A simple wave of the hand in the child’s direction may do the trick.
  • Take plenty of breaks: Struggling to hear can make mild and moderately deaf children tired. Jokes like “are we keeping you awake” if a deaf child yawns must be avoided. Instead take short breaks regularly.
  • Use technology: Soundfield systems project a teacher’s voice across the classroom and can very effectively reduce what a mild and moderately deaf child misses in the classroom.

Susan Daniels, our Chief Executive, said: “Mild and moderate deafness can be overlooked because of a perception that it is not a serious condition or that children are ‘coping’ at school - but often these children are nodding their way through without really understanding and missing out on vital development.

“Over half of children with a mild or moderate hearing loss fail to achieve five good GCSEs, compared to 30% of other children. This attainment gap is simply unacceptable.

“No child should have to struggle at school because of misconceptions about their deafness. We hope every teacher in the country will watch our new video and consider what they can do to support a child with a mild or moderate hearing loss in their classroom.”

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