New website for deaf young people

my life my health

My life, My health is an exciting new health campaign to improve deaf young people’s experiences of GP services.  Click here to go to the website.

The campaign was created by the NDCS Young People’s Advisory Board (YAB) to support deaf young people’s access to healthcare services. They have created exciting new resources to support young people, parents and professionals.

Cochlear Implant for Jonathan

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See this wonderful clip of 8 month old Jonthan having the cochlear implant in his right ear turned on. When you look at it the 2nd time watch how he mimics his mother’s mouth movements.

Reminds me of the fascinating work carried out by Colwyn Trevarthen on the communication betwen very small children and their carers.

He studied the rhythms and expressions of children’s play and fantasy, and how musical games and songs, stories and acts of discovery, with real or imaginary companions, support the development of skills during infancy and the pre-school years.

His influence on music therapy – especially in areas of conflict – is very significant in enabling youngsters undergoing the intense trauma of living in a war zone, as can be seen in the work of Nigel Osbourne.

Trevarthen also pioneered the incredibly powerful Video Interactive Guidance programme which helps professionals ‘give individuals a chance to reflect on their interactions, drawing attention to elements that are successful and supporting clients to make changes where desired’.

I did part one of this training a few years ago and found it invaluable.

But back to Jonathan – I know some members of the hearing impaired community dislike the emphasis on the spoken as opposed to the signed, word but no one could deny the joy that baby experiences as he communicates with his mum. I recently trod on one of my incredibly expensive hearing aids and am awaiting a replacement. It feels as if I’m underwater when trying to discern conversations. The temptation is to turn off from ordinary human contact. I pick up important news but miss all the general chat in staff rooms. No wonder I’m anti-social! I’m with those who ensure that children are given such implants as soon as is possible.

And here’s an opportunity to say farewell to a good friend and great colleague, Eleanor Carnell. She is an amazing fount of wisdom and knowledge about lots of stuff – but especially about teaching children with hearing impairments. She retires at the end of session after many years of sterling service to the Lothians and we in the Outreach Team will miss her sorely.

(PS If some clever person could change this URL to the real Youtube video I ‘d be pleased. Why does it work on my blog but not here?)

Free British Sign Language Audio Tours launched at Holyrood

British Sign Language users can now take a free tour of Holyrood while viewing an audio-visual guide. From today, deaf and hard-of-hearing visitors using BSL who participate in guided tours will be able to use hand-held audio/visual guides with BSL to learn about the Scottish Parliament.

The tours give visitors a behind-the-scenes insight into some of the Holyrood building’s unique architecture and art collection, and visitors will learn all about the role and work of the Parliament and its 129 MSPs.


Some more equal …

The Outreach Team had an interesting day recently looking at the new Curriculum for Excellence outcomes and experiences for Literacy and English and Health and Well Being.

One of the outcomes under the Responsible Citizens heading started a lively debate which raised the whole issue of inclusion and equality:

I can evaluate environmental, scientific and technological issues.

We discussed case studies of students with English as an additional language (including those who use British Sign Language) and wondered if such an evaluation carried out in English would be fair to them. Surely if it is their knowledge and understanding of, say Biology, that is being assessed, then a full answer in their native tongue would be a truer representation than one done in a second language.

If this does not happen, pupils who use English as an additional language are not fully included in Curriculum for Excellence until they are proficient in written English. We decided that their abilities in their own language must be acknowledged; just as learners with dyslexia are entitled to have poor spelling overlooked if the content is understood.

This of course raises enormous issues about availability of translators, apart from the more deep seated issue about a right to be included.

Thanks to Janet Storey for the fascinating lead on this discussion.

Framework for Inclusion

The Scottish Government announced yesterday that a new initiative in teacher training – the National Framework for Inclusion – aims to ensure better classroom support for pupils with additional needs, such as dyslexia.
Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning Fiona Hyslop launched the Framework which offers advice to encourage student teachers and qualified teachers to be inclusive in their teaching.

The Framework was funded by the Scottish Government and developed by the Scottish Teacher Education Committee (STEC), the body for the seven Scottish universities who provide teacher training.identifies the values and beliefs, professional knowledge and understanding and the skills and abilities, in terms of inclusive education, to be expected of both student teachers and qualified teachers. A further web-based resource will give support by providing relevant, high quality materials and documentation.

The document proposes under each of the headings (Student Teachers, Teachers, Advanced Professionals) what should be regarded as minimum expectations of teachers at each of the levels rather than as a hierarchical approach to anticipated engagement by teachers.

It aims to place a clear emphasis on the essential role played by the values and beliefs (Professional Values and Commitment) of each teacher in their commitment to the development of inclusive practice.

The Framework Document aims to be comprehensive but not prescriptive. It is question-based to encourage teachers to accept a shared responsibility for researching answers – and further questions – with the support of the web-based repository. It would be good to see staff in schools thinking about these questions in relation to all their pupils.

I really welcome the fact that it promotes inclusion as being the responsibility of all teachers in all schools and has tried to identify and to address the needs of teachers at all stages of their careers. It recognises and emphasises the need for career-long and life-long learning

Scottish-US study to help deaf and hard of hearing children with maths

Scientists in Scotland and the US will undertake a study to investigate why children who are deaf or hard of hearing experience problems with

Researchers in Scotland and the US will now spend four years investigating the problem after being awarded £800,000 in funding from the National Institute for Child Health and Human Development in America.

The study will examine a number of areas including memory and attention skills, parental and child attitudes to maths and basic number skills.


New signs of the times for deaf learners Herald Society reports that hundreds of deaf pupils could benefit from a project that is building a suite of new sign language symbols for scientific terms and concepts. Edinburgh University’s School of Education has developed glossaries for British Sign Language (BSL) covering biology, physics and chemistry.

The school’s Scottish Sensory Centre had already produced more than 80 individual signs for mathematicss in a pilot project. So far, more than 250 words or phrases have been created in response to growing demand from deaf pupils and teachers for a wider scientific vocabulary in the commonly used language.

Cochlear Implantation

Cochlear ImplantI have been supporting a family whose deaf 3year old has just had a Cochlear Implant ( a hearing device that is implanted into the cochlea to deliver a sound sensation that the brain can interpret for speech). This has been a very exciting time for us all, but a very nerve wracking and emotional time for the family. I also was able to meet the implant team in Kilmarnock (our national implant centre) to discuss the procedure and likely outcomes.  Research has shown that the earlier a deaf child is implanted the more likely the success, although sucess is not guaranteed. They are now implanting at a year old! Our 3 year old will have 3 years to make up once her implant is ‘tuned’ in (one month from implantation to enable the operated site to heal)as well as trying to keep up with her peers.

Having supported the family so far I now feel that I will have to deliver strategies to ‘catch up’ the missed years, both for her nursery placement and her family. Our aim is to limit the gaps in language so that she can access the curriculum especially in the later primary years, and then into high school where I hope her choices and attainments will be limitless. A tall order? Our expectations must be high for her and support at these early stages will lay the foundations for good speech and access to language.

This child will still be deaf and need extra support throughout her education but she will also access the hearing world and have choices. Cochlear implants have proved to be successful for many users and as I learn and ecperience more of them I am amazed at the outcomes that I never dreamed would occur.