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Swimming and communication

Photo: There are lots of different ways to help deaf children communicate in the pool

Swimming and communication

It’s important to remember that your child may not be able to access the same level of communication without the help of hearing aids or cochlear implants – especially if they don’t use sign language and can’t lipread.

Use these simple techniques to stay safe and communicate with your child in the water.

British Sign Language (BSL) for Swimming

Watch our videos with all the basic BSL signs you’ll need to help you communicate with your deaf child when swimming.

Safety first

Make sure all safety instructions are given before your child enters the pool, while their hearing aids or cochlear implants are still in place. It’s important to include:

  • stop
  • wait
  • jump
  • don’t jump
  • get out of the water.

Getting a deaf child’s attention

Once they’re in the pool, here are some tips to help get your deaf child’s attention:

  • wave and use visual cues, such as flags or buoys
  • splash the water to get their attention (without splashing their face)
  • ask other group members to get their attention (or swimming after them - if appropriate)
  • have an adult in the swimming pool who can assist (ideally a Level 1 coach)
  • use a buddy system for all the children - encourage them to work together like this:
    • a deaf child pairs up with a hearing child
    • they work on activities together or alongside each other
    • they don’t swim away from each other
    • they don’t leave the pool without one another.