Teachers of deaf children

Many teachers of deaf children have told us about the shortage of good educational resources accessible in sign language – this may be one reason why there is still a significant educational attainment gap between deaf and hearing children.

We hope the provision of some of the best contemporary children’s books, fully accessible in sound, sign, text and pictures or animation, will give you an additional interesting resource around which to build literacy and other lessons.

We have a range of advice from teachers working in both mainstream and special schools where deaf children are learning, and links to resources and suggestions to aid the education of deaf children.

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All children can enjoy stories if they’re encouraged in the right way. And whether you’re a teacher of deaf children, a teacher at a mainstream school where there are deaf pupils, or are deaf yourself, there are some general tips for making storytelling accessible and worthwhile for all.

We are grateful to the experienced teachers of deaf children who have shared their expertise by providing a range of guidance and techniques:

Talk about emotions
For children, the pre-school years are full of a new sense of order. If they’re attending nursery or a childminder, their lives are suddenly structured and they’re expected to behave in set ways.

As deaf children start to make connections with many more people, stories are a helpful aid in understanding the complex emotions that result.

Emotions are difficult concepts to translate and explain in sign language. But experienced teachers of deaf children stress how important it is to ensure that – in advance of reading a story – children grasp the emotional concepts which are being explored in them – fear, pride, shyness and so on.

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Access books in different ways
In the early years, it’s important to instil a love of reading both for education and for pleasure. Allow children to experience a wide range of books in many different formats – hardback, paperback, online, DVD.

All Signed Stories are available for free online, and there are links to the publisher’s websites where you can buy the book.

Stories are also available on the Signed Stories iOS app for iPad, iPhone and iPodTouch, with interactive learning games.

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Teaching devices - group storytelling
Storytelling with a group of deaf children requires a different approach to one-to-one reading – maintaining the attention of a group of deaf children can be challenging because they do not have the stimulation of voice.

Before you start reading, there are things you can do to generate interest in books, clarify difficult issues in the story and ultimately enhance their understanding of the story:

Getting children to draw or paint scenes from a book is a useful way of reinforcing ideas and vocabulary before storytelling. If the story is likely to arouse strong emotions in the children, it can be useful to discuss this first. Deaf children can have trouble identifying and naming their emotions so it might be useful to explore these and give the children the words and the signs to use.

For example, before reading a story about fear you could discuss what it’s like to be scared. What other vocabulary relates to being scared – frightened, fear, nervous, anxious...?

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Use visual aids to bring the story ‘out of the book’ – like a puppet or a doll.

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