Supporting families with deaf children - coronavirus info for professionalsPublished Date: 23 Nov 2020
Face-to-face home visits from professionals, such as Teachers of the Deaf, can be an important source of support for many families, particularly in the early years. Whilst support can sometimes be provided remotely, this is not always the case and may not always be the most effective way of meeting the family’s needs.
Reasons why a face-to-face visit may be more effective or necessary include:
- Family has limited IT to be able to carry out virtual calls
- There is a need to provide coaching or demonstrate or model good practice which cannot be done effectively remotely
- The family would benefit from emotional support that cannot be done effectively remotely
- To carry out accurate and effective assessments and monitoring
- When fitting or checking equipment, such as radio aids
- Concerns about safeguarding and a need to see a child in person.
Where government guidance permit home visits, professionals will already be carrying out risk assessments to decide whether to provide support remotely or face-to-face. We encourage professionals to balance the risks around coronavirus against the risk to the family and the deaf child if support is not provided face-to-face.
Professionals should obviously seek the agreement of the family before carrying out any visit and establish that any face-to-face visit can be carried out in line with the relevant social distancing and hygiene requirements for your nation (e.g. confirming that nobody in the family has any coronavirus symptoms, there is sufficient space to sit 2 metres apart and that the professional will not be able to consume any cups of tea, etc.).
As an alternative to a home visit, you could consider arranging to meet the family in an appropriate public space, such as a children’s centre or an early years setting.
We acknowledge that, in some cases, there may be no alternative but to provide support remotely (for example, because of a local lockdown or if someone in the household has coronavirus symptoms). Professionals ensure that support can still be provided remotely, as much as possible.
As far as we can see, government guidance does not include specific advice on the different scenarios in which deaf children may receive support in the home (for example, from a peripatetic Teacher of the Deaf). However, guidance around social care visits may provide a helpful guide:
Information about coronavirus for deaf children
We know that many children are feeling anxious about current events and changes in their usual routine. A range of resources have been created for deaf children and young people with information about coronavirus and to support their wellbeing:
- MindHeart storybook for children under the age of 7, available in different languages
- World Health Organisation story book for children aged 6-11 years, which is also available in different languages
- Coronavirus: a book for children, with British Sign Language interpretation
- Deaf Kidz vs COVID-19 online game, with instructions available in British Sign Language and International Sign
- Dave the Dog is worried about coronavirus story in British Sign Language and English subtitles, for children aged 5-11.
- Stay Home Superheroes – a short story available animated with spoken English with subtitles, or in BSL with Deaf actors and aimed at pre-school and primary school age children
- AskDeafTeachers, a range of nine short videos in British Sign Language about coronavirus.
Deaf young people can also visit our Buzz website.
Our website provides information for families on how they can support their child’s emotional wellbeing.
Other resources that may be helpful include:
- Public Health England’s guidance to families on promoting children’s mental health
- Produced by Welsh Government, a Young Person’s Mental Health Toolkit
- Information from Parent Club in Scotland
If you feel that a child needs more support with their mental health, our website has more information on the professionals that can provide support.
Local groups for parents of deaf children can also provide a source of peer support for families.
Tragically, deaf children and young people may experience the loss of a family member due to the spread of coronavirus. The Child Bereavement Network provides advice to professionals on working with children experiencing bereavement at this time.
Face masks and coverings
Face masks and coverings introduces a range of communication challenges for many deaf children and young people and can be a source of anxiety for many families.
Our blog for families on face masks provides more information on when face masks or coverings must be worn and provides tips to overcome any communication barriers that arise.
Our education blog for professionals sets out our advice on the use of face coverings in education.
Deaf children and young people may be using social media and virtual communication to keep in touch with others. This will be an important way of helping deaf children and young people to feel less isolated and to support their wellbeing. It will be important to ensure that deaf children and young people understand how to keep themselves safe online.
- Flyer for secondary-aged deaf young people
- Information for parents about online safety
- Resources for professionals
Remember that you can also refer families to us for support and advice by using our online form. If English is not their first language we can contact them with a phone interpreter or using InterpreterNow, a BSL video interpreting service.