Make school plays deaf-friendly
We’ve put together some top tips to help deaf children feel included in school plays and to make sure they have a fun experience. Share with teachers, youth or drama club workers, church/religious leaders, and anyone else who may be supporting your child with arts performances.
- Stand in one place – it’s difficult for a deaf child to lipread if you move around and they cannot see your face.
- Position yourself centrally so that everyone can see you – a circle or U shape works best.
- Ensure the room is well lit and you don’t have a light behind you that puts your face in shadow.
- Before speaking, try waving to get a deaf child’s attention, turn the lights on and off or stamp on the floor.
- Turn off any music that is playing before you speak.
- For more tips on communication see 11 tips for communicating with a deaf child.
- Visual cues might be best for a deaf child, but some may be able to hear spoken cues – check with the deaf child during rehearsals.
- Have somebody nearby who can nudge/nod/signal to the deaf child when it’s their cue.
- Let them have the script/songsheet with them so that they know what the other children are saying and have somebody on hand to point out where they should be if they lose their place.
- Make sure that costumes (on everybody, not just the deaf child) do not cover the whole face as the deaf child will find it hard to lipread.
- Make sure that the deaf child’s ears aren’t covered – hats and other props may cause hearing aids to feedback and the child may miss their cue if they can’t hear as well as usual.
Including deaf children
- Include deaf children as much as you would hearing children.
- Be encouraging – some deaf children will be anxious about taking part.
- Giving a deaf child a leading role can actually help them follow what’s happening better than a smaller part.
- You could make sure the deaf child has a buddy to help prompt and encourage them.
If the play involves the lights going out:
- remember to ask the child if they are comfortable/happy with that as some deaf children may find it distressing
- tell the deaf child that this will be happening and for roughly how long
- perhaps have a small lamp backstage or make sure that the deaf child will be close to a peer or leader while the lights are off.
- Use spotlights and other light effects sparingly and with care! If a deaf child is relying on visual cues, they may be dazzled by strong lighting and not be able to see very well.
How technology can help
- Consider using a microphone to help with projection of voice if the deaf child is concentrating on speaking clearly.
- Wear radio aids or microphones without being reminded by the deaf child – they might be embarrassed to ask.
- Click here for more information on technology and products.