What happens when children who are deaf or hearing impaired go to school?

06 April 2017

Today we are focusing on our Student Services Program and how it supports school age children who are deaf or hearing impaired.

The Student Services Program assists in keeping young people on track with their listening and spoken language to help with academic and future successes.

Teacher of the deaf works with a hearing impaired studentThe Cora Barclay Centre does not finish their support of a family when it is time for a child to go to school. If required, a child is paired with a Teacher of Deaf when they head off to Reception.  

Why do children with hearing loss need special support at school?

One of the amazing things about Cora Barclay Centre Early Intervention is that it assists children in being able to attend a mainstream school; in fact, 95% of students who have graduated from an Auditory-Verbal Therapy Early Intervention Program will attend a mainstream school.

However, schools are challenging environments in which to listen and hear. Generally they are full of hard surfaces and the rooms are not optimised to achieve the best possible listening experience. This can make the transition to school a difficult one for a child who is deaf or hearing impaired.

Therefore the goal of the Student Services team is to facilitate and support students to achieve the listening, cognitive, speech and language skills necessary to achieve their realistic education, career and life goals.

Who provides support to children in schools who are deaf or hearing impaired?

The Cora Barclay Centre has a team of Teachers of the Deaf / Teachers of the Deaf in training who provide support to families and children with hearing loss in schools. Every Teacher of the Deaf is a registered teacher who has undertaken additional specialist qualifications in the area of hearing impairment.

Teachers of the Deaf are trained in understanding the needs of students with a hearing loss and look to support inclusion and participation in school on the same basis as their classmates by identifying and working on areas that require explicit teaching.

Young girls in school uniform

What does a Teacher of the Deaf actually do?

As mentioned earlier a Teacher of the Deaf works with a child to optimise their learning experience. How this works will vary for each child but in general they will:

  • Look at the child’s learning goals with the hearing loss in mind
  • Consider what language structures and skills the student needs at the moment
  • Consider what language concepts and skills they will require in upcoming units so they can pre-teach these in preparation
  • Support the child with strategies to handle difficult social / emotional / self-advocacy challenges that may come up throughout their schooling

This can take many forms, but some examples are:

  • Finding out what the student knows about their hearing loss and teaching them about it. It’s important for students to have self-advocacy skills to ensure they have the best access to listening in learning environments. For example, they may ask the teacher to turn the wireless communication device on if it’s not already.
  • Introducing subject-specific and topic vocabulary so when it’s talked about in the classroom, the student already has some understanding of the word and has, at least, heard the words before. These words can be used in sentence level and discourse level listening activities.
  • Listening activities such as blending sounds to form words, segmenting words into their individual sounds and manipulating sounds in words. For example, if one says ‘flake’ without the /l/, what word is left?

Teachers of the Deaf visit students in school and spend time with them during the school day or after school. At the moment the Cora Barclay Centre has 192 students being supported by 7 Teachers of the Deaf.

That may seem like a very high number of students per teacher, but for a significant portion of those students they are only visited annually or termly.

It is actually really positive that we have so many children who only require termly or yearly visits from a Teacher of the Deaf; this means that they are doing so well with their listening and spoken language and dealing with their hearing loss that they no longer require regular support.

However, Teachers of the Deaf visit children weekly, fortnightly, monthly, termly or yearly depending upon the support they require.

Like all Cora Barclay Centre services they are very much dictated by what is right for the child and the family at the time.

What happens after school?

Students who have been supported by Cora Barclay Centre staff through their Early Intervention and Student Services programs have terrific outcomes.

  • 86% complete year 12 (80% in the general population)
  • 62% obtain a tertiary qualification (43% in the general population)

Children who have been supported by the Cora Barclay Centre have a wonderful opportunity to achieve no limits in life and achieve the goals they set for themselves.

So many of our former students have achieved such great success and we can’t wait to bring you more of their stories through this blog.


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