How can I make Deaf Awareness in schools interesting?

Recently I ran some assemblies during deaf awareness week at some local primary schools. To be honest I don’t think I was that good (which is why I am under a different name). Do you have any resources or ideas that would be useful for me to include and/or hand out ready for next year? I am a hard of hearing social worker and should have known better but there is so little good DA stuff out there.
Any information or advice would be very useful and much appreciated.


Deafauntie says:

Every trainer needs to do their own research and tailor their sessions according to both teaching style and the allocated age group. This is why standard Deaf Awareness packs never work – many have been produced over the years; if you locate an out of print one, then you’ll see what I mean. Yes, there are standard things to include in your session – whether it is Deaf Awareness or Deaf Equality or whatever – but it is still very much up to the individual.
The Council on Deafness manage Deaf Awareness Week each May – click here for details. They usually have some materials and posters to hand. A lot of deaf and hearing loss charities produce high-quality materials, usually only in a very short print run.
Trainers need to be like vacuum cleaners and be able to hoover up appropriate materials wherever they come across them.
More importantly, ask yourself: why has the school asked you – apart from it being Deaf Awareness Week? Do they have deaf pupils too or is it part of their curriculum? There are some wonderful books and puppets out there for the very young. Google the main online deaf bookshops for suitable resources. Most of all be fun – while not forgetting to pack a punch too!

2 responses to “How can I make Deaf Awareness in schools interesting?

  1. Hi Alan,

    Laraine is absolutely right to say you need to customise training material (or produce your own) to meet the needs of your audience and to make sure you’re comfortable with your talk.

    I’ve done a lot of d/a talks to school children of various ages and to Cub and Brownie packs. My advice is to make sure there’s lots of practical content and to make it as relevant as possible to young folk. Otherwise you’ll find it very hard to hold on to your audience’s attention (as I know from bitter experience!).

    Here are some suggestions based on topics that I find go down well.

    Kick off by drawing a diagram of the ear. Explain how it works (the “mechanical” bits and the “electronic” bits) and how different sorts of deafness affect your hearing. And what hearing aids do to make a difference.

    Practical content would include lipreading exercises, with the class split into pairs where one person lipspeaks from a list of words and their partner lipreads. Explain how severely and profoundly deaf people rely on lipreading. For younger children, use pictures (clip art) rather than words.

    People who are born totally deaf are likely to use BSL. Demonstrate some signs and get the audience to copy you. Like the lipreading exercise, this is great fun as well as being informative.

    To help make d/a relevant to young people, explain the dangers of MP3 players. Talk about decibels and give some everyday examples – eg a noisy classroom, road traffic, pneumatic drill etc. Compare MP3 players with these and explain what precautions you should take to protect your hearing.

    Describe how the noise of night clubs and rock concerts can damage your hearing. What precautions should you take? List some rock stars whose hearing has been damaged by their own music.

    Talk about the first signs of hearing loss – eg not being able to hear the TV properly. And describe what happens next – the roles of GP and ENT, getting yours ears syringed, having a hearing test, etc etc.

    Finally, make sure you give lots of examples of your own experience of deafness, including any amusing stories.

    Your own experience will provide a lot of your material if you dig deep enough. And there’s tons of stuff about lipreading, BSL, decibels, and all aspects of deafness on the internet. As Laraine suggests, you should get into the habit of hoovering up additional material whenever you spot it.

    Good luck!

  2. I have never done a DA course but have attended some. However I have done a lot of conferences and public speaking in my job.

    One of the key lessons I learnt is that you must find out who your audiences are and adapt your style to make your approach/ key points interesting.

    There is nothing better than to involve your audience, and allow them to respond back as an interaction.

    On the top of my head I often think there is nothing better than to actually experience deafness…so perhaps you could try a ear plug test on them…make them learn physically rather than believe what you say? Also make them see how the signs of hands are visible when you cannot hear or understand…children love that sort of thing and their minds are very much like a sponge, they can and will amass knowledge if it is fun and informative.

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