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Adapting activities

Photo: Simple adaptations can make your activities accessible for deaf kids

There are many ways that you can make small and simple adaptations to include deaf children and young people. Here are some more simple tips for communicating with a deaf child:

  • Get children’s attention by using visual clues, like raising your arm.
  • Stay in one place, and keep eye contact when talking.
  • Give out brief, simple instructions and explain topics you will cover.
  • Use as little jargon as possible and stick to one point at a time.
  • Use demonstrations to increase understanding, and don’t talk at the same time.
  • Use pre-agreed visual signals for different actions (for example, 'stop!').
  • Visual timetables help the group know what is going to happen and helps with context.

Adapting activities

  • Write things down, use a flipchart or carry a notebook for outdoor activities.
  • Consider how to store technology, such as hearing aids (if needed), and make use of quiet rooms or areas to deliver instructions.
  • Consider the position of you and the interpreter, make sure you’re next to each other where possible, and that there is enough light to see what is being said.
  • Repeat other young people’s contributions to the session so it’s clear what your answer is in reference to.
  • Check for understanding and allow time for a Q&A.
  • Make use of visual aids, such as whiteboards and flags for diagrams, instructions, scores or whistles.
  • Have a run through or practice go before the real thing.
  • Make others such as coaches, assistants and activity leaders aware there is a deaf child or young person in the group.

Involving volunteers

Volunteers add value and without them, many youth activities would not exist. You may use a volunteer to:

  • assist with communication support (for children who use British Sign Language (BSL)
  • provide the group with additional support to be deaf-friendly.

Remember all deaf children and young people are individual and do not all require communication support. It is really important to check with the deaf child or young person and their parents first before making any assumptions!