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Glossary: S

School governors – England, Northern Ireland and Wales

School governors work with the headteacher and senior management team of a school to make sure students get a good education. The governing body is made up of school governors elected by parents, staff at the school, local authority representatives and members of the local community. The governing body itself also ‘sponsors’ governors, and if appropriate, governors can be appointed by the relevant religious body or foundation. School governors oversee the strategic running of the school.

Sensorineural deafness

A permanent hearing loss caused by a problem with the inner ear, meaning the cochlea or hearing nerve do not work effectively.

Sensory support service

A specialist service which provides support to deaf children and their parents. The sensory support service might also be known as the hearing-impaired service or specialist education service for deaf children. The service is part of the education service and employs Teachers of the Deaf (ToDs) as well as other specialist staff who support deaf children. They can provide support in the child's home, at nurseries and playgroups or in school. It may also offer advice and support to nurseries, playgroups, schools and colleges that teach deaf children.

In some areas, the sensory support service will also support blind or visually impaired children.

Severe deafness

A level of deafness where the person needs sounds at an average level of 71 to 95 decibels (dB) (averaged across speech frequencies) to be able to hear them.

SHANARRI indicators - Scotland

A set of eight indicators used to measure a child’s wellbeing as part of Getting it Right for Every Child (GRIFEC): Safe, Healthy, Achieving, Nurtured, Active, Respected, Responsible and Included.


The casing of an in-the-ear or in-the-canal hearing aid.


A device which allows another audio connection, such as a direct input lead or receiver, to be plugged directly into a hearing aid. Also called a direct audio input shoe, audio plug, or interface shoe.

Sign language interpreter

Translates spoken English into sign language and vice-versa, allowing for easy communication between deaf sign language users and hearing people.  

Sign Supported English (SSE)

A way of speaking and signing at the same time, using British Sign Language (BSL) signs for key words while speaking English. SSE signers don’t sign every word.

Signed English (SE)

Signed English is an exact representation of English where a sign is used alongside every spoken word, including fingerspelling words which don't have an equivalent in BSL, such as 'to' or 'the'.

Social worker for deaf people

A social worker who specialises in working with deaf people. They support families with claiming welfare benefits or getting equipment. They may also help families access other services, such as family sign language classes.

Sound field audiometry

Similar to pure tone audiometry but the sound is played through a speaker instead of headphones, and the child is shown how to respond to hearing a sound by pressing a button or playing a game. 

Soundfield system

Amplifies a teacher’s voice evenly around a room so students can hear it above unwanted background noises. It consists of loudspeakers fitted around a classroom which are linked to a microphone worn by the teacher. 

Sound processor

The external part of a bone-anchored hearing aid or cochlear implant which is attached to the skull either with a magnet or an abutment (implanted screw). The sound then travels through the skull by vibrations or electrical signals. The sound processor can be removed easily for activities like bathing, swimming and sleeping.

Special educational needs (SEN) – England and Northern Ireland

 A child has special educational needs if they have or are likely to have much more difficulty in learning than other children of the same age. This may also be called special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). Many, but not all, deaf children are viewed by their local authority (council) as having SEN.

Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal (First Tier) – England and Northern Ireland

The First-Tier SEND Tribunal considers appeals from parents who disagree with decisions made by local authorities about a child's special educational needs. A case may go to Tribunal if an agreement cannot be reached between parent and the local authority. The Tribunal is independent, and is made up of one Tribunal Judge, who is legally qualified, and two specialist members who have knowledge and experience of special educational needs but not necessarily deafness. A Tribunal is a legal process, and decisions will be based on the facts of the case.

Special Educational Needs and Disability (Upper Tribunal) – England and Northern Ireland

If you think the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal (First Tier) has made a legal mistake in coming to their decision, you may be able to appeal to the Upper Tribunal, with legal help from a barrister or solicitor who specialises in the law relating to special educational needs.

Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCO) - England

A teacher who has been designated by the school to identify children with special educational needs (SEN) and to make sure they receive appropriate support. This may involve working directly with the child or supporting mainstream staff in assessing a child’s needs.

Special educational needs (SEN) support – England and Northern Ireland

Education settings must take steps to make sure the needs of children with special educational needs (SEN) are being met. This is known as SEN support.

Special Educational Needs Tribunal – Northern Ireland

Considers parents' appeals against decisions made by education and library boards about children's special educational needs where the parents cannot reach agreement with the board. It also looks at claims of disability discrimination in schools.

Special Educational Needs Tribunal for Wales (SENTW) – Wales

Considers parents’ appeals against decisions made by Welsh local authorities about children’s special educational needs where the parents cannot reach agreement with the local authority.

Specialist notetaker

A notetaker who’s trained to take notes during lectures or classes specifically for deaf students. They need to have the ability to provide a full account of the session and change language to meet the student’s needs.

Specialist resource base

Also known as a specialist unit, specialist provision, resource provision or hearing impaired unit. All these terms refer to a small unit attached to a mainstream school. It supports deaf students at the school and sometimes deaf children who attend other schools in the area. Some students may spend all their time in the resource base, while others might only use the base occasionally.

The unit, base or provision should be staffed by qualified Teachers of the Deaf (ToDs). Some classrooms in the base may have been adapted for teaching deaf children.

Specialist schools for deaf children

A specialist school for deaf children with additional needs or disabilities. The school will have specialist equipment, staff and teaching strategies to meet the needs of the children who go there.

Speech and language therapist

A health professional who offers assessment, treatment and advice to people of all ages who have difficulty communicating, eating, drinking or swallowing.

Speech and language therapy

Speech and language therapy helps children develop communication skills. These skills may include receptive language (what your child understands); expressive language (what your child says or signs); speech skills (how your child pronounces words); and interaction skills (how your child uses language in conversation).

Speech processor

The external part of a bone-anchored hearing aid or cochlear implant which is attached to the skull either with a magnet or an abutment (implanted screw). Sound travels through the skull by vibrations or electrical signals. The speech processor can be removed easily for activities like bathing, swimming and sleeping.

Speech-to-text reporter

A highly trained operator who types a live, verbatim (every word) account of a meeting or class which a deaf person can see on a screen. The reporter can type at 200­ to 300 words per minute. This service can also be provided remotely through the internet.

Statement of Special Educational Needs (SEN) – Northern Ireland

A legal document written by the local education authority. It states what your child needs to learn and the support that the education service must give to your child to help meet their needs.

Statutory assessment – England, Northern Ireland and Wales

A detailed assessment to find out what a child's educational needs are. Usually only needed if a child's school, playgroup or nursery cannot provide all of the support the child needs. The local authority will use the statutory assessment to decide whether to provide an Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan, a statement of Special Educational Needs (SEN) or an Individual Development Plan (IDP).

Stetoclip (or listening stick)

A device that lets a hearing person listen to a hearing aid to make sure that it’s working. Also known as an attenuator.


Words that appear over a video and show as closely as possible what the people in the video are saying.


A medical term meaning a collection of signs or symptoms that doctors recognise as being related or having a common cause.