What is Deafness?
Deafness is simply a difference in sensory perception. Someone who is deaf may perceive some or none of these sounds:
Speech. The acoustic part of speech – how the voice sounds.
Environmental sounds eg footsteps, doors opening, traffic, phones ringing, birds singing etc.
Deaf people often become highly sensitive to the other elements of speech such as lip patterns, eye contact, facial expression, body posture and movement which we all use to help us understand what someone is saying. They may also become highly skilled at ‘reading to room’ to know how to act.
The structure of the ear
Stuart Harris explains all about the structure of the ear. June 2022
Stuart Harris explains how hearing aids work. June 2022
Examples of deaf friendly adjustments are:
1. This option helps everybody.
Face the deaf person or baby
Make good eye contact
Do not shout
If your baby or child uses hearing technology or hearing aids, the longer they are able to use them the better, but there is no magic number.
2. This option will help your deaf baby to learn English or the language of the home.
Make spoken language visual with Cued Speech
video - how does cueing work
3. This option will help your child develop a full visual signed language.
Provide access to a signed language such as British Sign Language. For hearing families this usually starts with having a culturally Deaf sign language user (Deaf adult) visit the home regularly to act a fluent language model for their deaf child, they may work just with the child or include other family members. Family members may also go to sign language classes just as some people go to French or Spanish classes.
4. Learn some signs. This means continuing to speak English and learning to add a sign/gesture to some of the words as we say them.
This option will support communication by:
i/ giving a deaf child visual support to recognise when you are saying certain words (usually nouns)
ii/ giving you a way to recognise when your child is saying certain words (before their speech becomes clear enough to understand)
*NB This option will not give enough visual information for a child to perceive the full language of spoken English or BSL.
There are two manual systems that were created to meet the needs of children with learning disabilities and communication issues not deafness, but some people do choose to use these with deaf children, these are: