About Deaf, deaf and hard of hearing
The term “Deaf” (capitalised D) describes individuals who communicate using Australian Sign Language (Auslan). These individuals identify as belonging to the signing Deaf community, which is like a different ethnic group; it has its own language and culture. Deaf people often interact with both the Deaf and hearing communities, but do not consider themselves to be “hearing impaired”.
In contrast, the term “deaf” (lower case d) describes individuals who physically do not hear, as well as those who do not identify as members of the signing Deaf community.
“Hard of hearing” describes individuals who have a mild to moderate hearing loss, or who have developed hearing loss in late childhood or adulthood. People who are hard of hearing typically use spoken language (including lip-reading) to communicate. They may also rely on residual hearing (possibly with use of a hearing aid), written language, or gestures.
"Hearing impaired" is also often used in Australia to describe people who are hard of hearing, but this is generally not the preferred term.
Using the wrong word to describe a person’s hearing can be offensive, so it is important to ask the student and their family which group they identify with.
What might be some strengths?
- Some students who are Deaf or hard of hearing can achieve similar results to their peers academically.
- Some students are strong visual learners, and are able to mentally hold and manipulate visual information (e.g. picture an object and rotate that picture in their mind).
- Deaf and hard of hearing students may also show a high level of resilience, especially in their determination to understand a concept, complete a task and master a skill.
Where might you provide support?
- Students who are Deaf or hard of hearing may need support understanding spoken instructions.
- Some students may have challenges with speech, vocabulary, attention and behaviour.
- Some Deaf or hard of hearing students may need support forming and maintaining peer relationships.
Best practice tips
Consider the environment
Consider how you communicate and give instructions
Consider adjustments to activities
Visit our resources page for a range of resources that can help to create inclusive education environments for children with disabilities and developmental challenges. Some particularly relevant resources for children who are Deaf, deaf and hard of hearing include: