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Phone Number: 01603 704040
Fax Number: 01603 704047
Minicom Number: 01603 704044
Email: sensorysupport@norfolk.gov.uk

Communication Policy

Communication Policy for Deaf Children and Families

Mission Statement

‘All parents and professionals are fully informed and there is a wide choice of communication methods available across the county, consistently applied’

Background

All the agencies and parent representatives have worked together to develop a communication policy for Norfolk.  A flexible approach to communication is important so that whatever approach is chosen it maximises the educational opportunities for the child or young person.  The right choice is the one that works best for the family and child.  They may want to change the approach as they learn more about their child’s needs and preferences.

Purpose

This policy is for deaf children and their families and anyone working with deaf children.  The purpose of the policy is to ensure that everyone is aware of what services and provision is available and that there is consistency across Norfolk.

Informed Choice

Informed Model

Providing information is the key responsibility and only legitimate contribution of all professionals involved in the decision-making process.

  • True choice is dependent on the service providers ability to resource all the choices that the family may make
  • Families should have access to all the information
  • Information given should be objective, unbiased and consistent
  • Informed choices made by the family and later the child/young person should be respected and supported
  • Families should be encouraged to meet other families, deaf children and people

Training and Development

There needs to be regular training and updating of skills for all professionals working with deaf children and their families to ensure the policy is consistently applied.

The following training should be available;

  • Awareness raising of the policy
  • Training in the communication methods
  • Deaf Awareness Training

The Voice of the Child

Wherever possible both professionals and parents should ask the child for their views. This can be carried out through the annual review process.

Communication Approaches

The Communication Approaches available in Norfolk are outlined below. It is important that families understand that they can change communication method and the first choice they make is not necessarily a choice for life.

In summary the three main communication approaches are;

Auditory-oral approaches

Aim to develop speaking and listening in deaf children. They emphasise the use of hearing aids, radio aids and cochlear implants to make the best use of any hearing a deaf child has (residual hearing). Most use lip-reading to help a child’s understanding.  They do not use sign language or fingerspelling.

Aims

To allow deaf children to develop speech and communication skills that will allow them to communicate and mix with hearing people.

Building blocks

Speech, Cued speech, lipreading, gestures, residual hearing

What can we offer in Norfolk?

We can offer the following to support families who choose this method;

  • Teachers of the Deaf to work with the family at home and at school
  • Training for family and staff in schools including good use of equipment i.e. hearing aids, cochlear implants
  • Deaf Role Models, Specialist Support Worker and Deaf Awareness Training
  • Family Support Groups
  • Specialist Support Assistants in mainstream or unit provision who can provide note taking support etc.,
  • Deaf peer group in Resource bases
  • Access to Deaf peer group through social activities
  • Speech and Language Therapy as appropriate

What are the implications for parents and as a family in choosing this approach?

You will need to ensure that your child uses their amplification (hearing aids or implant) consistently to make sure that as you go about your daily activities and experiences with your child, you emphasise and support the best use of their hearing and listening, using the techniques you will be supported to develop, at all times.

Bilingualism

A bilingual approach uses sign language and a spoken language.

In Britain the two languages are usually British Sign Language and English. If a family speaks another language in the home then children may learn that in addition to British Sign Language and English.

Aims

BSL is a totally visual language and so being deaf need not affect your child’s ability to learn the language. When they have become confident in BSL, they can use this as the medium to learn English.  BSL also allows them access to other deaf people and hearing people who sign in the community.

Building Blocks

Sign Language (BSL), English, Speech, Fingerspelling, Lipreading,gestures

What can we offer in Norfolk?

We can offer the following to support families who choose this method;

  • Deaf Role Models and Language Aides to facilitate communication in British Sign Language
  • Signing classes for families
  • Teachers of the Deaf with BSL and Signed English qualifications to work with the family at home and at school
  • Family Support Groups
  • BSL Specialist Support Assistants in mainstream or Deaf Resource Base provision
  • Training for family and staff in schools including good use of equipment where appropriate
  • Deaf Role Models and Deaf Awareness Training
  • Deaf peer group in Deaf Resource Bases
  • Access to Deaf peer group through social activities
  • Speech and Language Therapy as appropriate

What are the implications for parents and as a family in choosing this approach?

Both you and the wider family (including your other children if you have any) will need to learn BSL so that you can become fluent enough to use it in your daily lives. Just as the professionals working with you and your child need to be skilled in supporting your child’s communication and language in the sign bilingual approach, you too must be able to provide a good sign bilingual communication environment.

If you are hearing and have no deaf people in your family, you may also want to learn about Deaf culture. You may also want to meet deaf people – including the vibrant community of young deaf/Deaf people who use BSL as their preferred language– both to enrich your experience and to enhance your own signing skills.

Total Communication

 

Video showing example of Total Communication

Total communication is based on using a combination of methods at the same time to communicate with a deaf child. To communicate and teach vocabulary and language in any way that works.

Aims

To provide a method of communication which uses speech and sign language at the same time and all other clues to help them communicate effectively.

Building blocks

Your child may benefit from some of the following building blocks.  The ones you choose will be appropriate to meet your child’s needs.

Lipreading, Cued speech, speech, residual hearing, gestures, sign support approach, fingerspelling, augmentative alternative communication (AAC).

What can we offer in Norfolk?

We can offer the following to support families who choose this method;

  • Deaf Role Models, Language Aides and Specialist Support Worker to facilitate communication in Sign Supported English
  • Signing and Cued Speech training for families
  • Teachers of the Deaf with BSL, Signed English or Cued Speech qualifications to work with the family at home and at school
  • Family Support Groups
  • Signed Support English or Cued Speech Specialist Support Assistants in mainstream or unit provision
  • Training for family and staff in schools including good use of equipment i.e. hearing aids, cochlear implants
  • Deaf Role Models and Deaf Awareness Training
  • Deaf peer group in Resource Bases
  • Access to Deaf peer group through social activities
  • Speech and Language Therapy as appropriate

What are the implications for parents and as a family in choosing this approach?

You will need to learn whatever communication system your child is using so that you become skilled enough to support and develop their communication as their own skills grow. You will also need to manage their amplification well to make sure they can benefit from the spoken environment too. It will be important for you to observe

and understand the way in which Total Communication is being used in your child’s schools so that you can approach it similarly at home. The whole family will need to learn about Total Communication too so that your child can communicate effectively and be involved fully in family life.

Where to get further information?

When your child is diagnosed with a hearing loss you will receive a pack of information from your key worker/Teacher of the Deaf.

Most commonly asked questions?

Will my child speak?

Deaf children are capable of speech. It will depend on many factors such as the hearing loss and use of hearing aids. It is vital to develop good communication with your child.

Where can we learn sign language?

You can learn sign language in your own home through Language Aides/Deaf Role Models/Specialist Support Worker and Teachers of the Deaf.  We also fund signing classes where possible for example British Sign Language Level 1.  You can also join a Family Signing Group where you can meet other parents who are using signing with their babies.

Can my child meet other deaf children?

There are opportunities to meet other deaf children and their families either on an individual basis or in a group situation. You can join voluntary groups in order to meet families or you can attend mother and toddler groups arranged by Children’s Services. Information on ways to meet deaf children will be provided by your Key worker.

What problems will my child encounter as he/she grows up?

It is important to remember that all children are individuals.  Therefore, what may be a problem for one child will not necessarily be a problem for another.  The main difficulty is communication. It is therefore of the utmost importance to recognise and address this matter as soon as possible. Choosing a communication method which suits your child is the first step. Good communication reduces frustration, isolation and the risk of being involved in dangerous situations and improves confidence, self esteem and the ability to cope with the world around them.

Who can help us with the statementing process?

You will receive a pack outlining the statement process and your key worker can go through this with you.  You can get more help through The National Deaf Children’s Society regional representative and Parent Partnership.  This is the process at the time of writing.

How will my child cope at school?

A package of support will be put in place, depending on your child’s needs. It is important to encourage all members of the school to be deaf aware and to make sure that your child is fully included in all aspects of school life. Good communication with the school is vital.

What support can I expect for my child?

Each child is individual and a package of support will be built around the needs of each child. Examples of the support on offer are listed above under each communication approach.

How do we choose the right method of communication?

This document describes the communication methods available in Norfolk. The Early Support Information for Parents – Deafness gives more information about communication approaches see link here:

http://www.ncb.org.uk/media/923196/early_support_deafness_and_hearing_loss_final__2_.pdf

Your key worker or Teacher of the Deaf can discuss the different approaches with you so you can make an informed choice about which method meets the needs of your child and family.  Communication methods may change as your child develops.

What if things are not working?

If you are unhappy with any areas of support you can talk this through with your key worker or school depending on the age of your child. It is always best to try to talk things through before you seek further advice and support, often this resolves any problems.  If the problems are not resolved you can speak to the Team Leader for Teachers of the Deaf or the Headteacher for Virtual School Sensory Support.  If you child is at school we suggest you talk to the Special Needs Co-ordinator, Headteacher and/or Governor for Special Educational Needs. You can also talk to the following who can give you individual support;

  • Parent Partnership
  • Regional NDCS Representative
  • Disability Co-ordinator
  • Locality Manager, Additional Needs
  • SEN Advisor

Appendices

Appendix I                     Leaflet on School Provision for Parent’s

http://vsss.virtual-school.org.uk/parent-carer/parent-leaflet-school-options-for-deaf-children-1

Appendix II                    Deaf Awareness Training and Tips (links to NDCS, BDA and RNID)

www.ndcs.org.uk

www.norfolkdeaf.org.uk

www.rnid.org.uk

www.deafconnexions.org.uk

Early Support Resources for young people

http://ncb.org.uk/who-we-are/involving-young-people