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Deaf-friendly birthday parties and party games

Photo: We've got tips to help all children join in with the fun of a birthday party

Birthday parties can be wonderful fun for kids. However, deaf children may feel left out if they can’t hear the instructions for party games, listen to music, or hear other noises.

So if your deaf child has been invited to a party, or your hearing child has invited a deaf friend to theirs - read and share these tips with parents to make sure everyone gets to join in the fun.

1. Give everyone a name badge

That way deaf children know who everybody is even if they miss out on hearing names during introductions. 

2. Don’t make assumptions about a deaf child’s communication methods

Not all deaf children use British Sign Language (BSL). Every deaf child will have a preferred way of communicating, so find out if they use speech, BSL or a mixture of both. If they do use BSL ask their parents if they’ll need an interpreter. See here for more communication tips.

3. Check with parents beforehand about the child’s needs

Some deaf children have additional needs other than their deafness. Check with the child’s parent if there is anything else you should be aware of that could impact on the child’s enjoyment of the game, such as a visual impairment.

4. Give everyone the chance to practise beforehand

If deaf children miss some instructions, they’ll get to go through the game before it starts. Give children as much information about the game as possible beforehand so they understand what they have to do.

5. Use tactile signs during games

Tactile signs can help deaf children who can't hear instructions during games. For example, a tap on the arm during Pin the Tail on the Donkey means you want the child to take the blindfold off.

6. Use visual cues

Visual cues can be helpful for deaf children who can't hear music or other noises during games. For example, during musical bumps, musical statues, and pass the parcel use flashing lights or raise your arm to tell the children to stop.

Michelle’s visual cue tip
“My son loves party games. Last year we had a party for him and he was the only deaf child there. We worried at first about how he was going to be able to join in any games with music such as musical statues and pass the parcel. So, I bought a controllable disco light and whilst the games were going on I had the lights flashing. When the music stopped I stopped the flashing lights. This helped my son and he fully enjoyed all the party games.”

7. Think about noise levels

Deaf children will find it difficult to hear if the noise levels are high and there’s a lot of background noise.

8. Include some deaf-friendly games

There are some deaf-friendly games you could try that raise deaf awareness and are also great fun.