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Communicating with Deaf Children and Adults

Having a child with a hearing loss in a daycare center can be challenging. It can also be interesting and rewarding. These questions can help you find out:

What is deafness and how will this affect a child?

  • Deafness is a partial or complete loss of hearing.
  • A hard-of-hearing child misses more than sound.
  • She is also cut off from hearing important everyday spoken and conversational information that allows speech and language to develop normally.
  • She will have trouble expressing her feelings and thoughts to other people.
  • She will have trouble understanding others. This can be very confusing and isolating.
  • You can help by making sure that the hard-of-hearing child is part of all activities and is never excluded.
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girls hugging

How can we communicate with a deaf child?

  • Body language and facial expressions are very important. This helps to communicate your general feelings to a hard of hearing child.
  • Make sure you're looking at her and she is looking at you! She needs to see your whole face to read your lips and understand your facial expressions.
  • She can read your face and your body to understand if you are happy or angry or sad.
  • Sign Language is a form of communication. Sign language uses the hands, facial expressions, and gestures in order to "speak" to others who know sign language. Learning some basic sign language would allow you to communicate better with deaf children.
  • Every child needs to know what is going on in the Daycare center.
    • This is especially important for hard-of-hearing children.
    • In a childcare center, there are daily communications that one assumes a child will just pick up as part of the environment.
    • But, many of these communications are missed by the hard-of-hearing child.
    • Providing access to communication at all times helps a child to understand her environment better.
  • American Sign Language (ASL) is the native language of the Deaf community. It is taught at many community resource sites like churches, libraries, and community colleges.
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What happens if the deaf child has deaf parents? How can we communicate with and get in touch with their deaf parents?

  • It is possible to communicate with deaf or hard-of-hearing parents on the phone.
  • Check with the parents of the child to find out the best way to communicate with them:
    • Many deaf or hard-of-hearing people now prefer to communicate using e-mail, pagers, text messengers or a TTY relay service.
    • Dial 711 to use the telephone relay service. The relay operator will ask if you have used the service before. If you haven't, she will help you use the relay service to communicate with the parents.
    • Writing is a good way to communicate. Notes can be sent home each day. It is best to have a special notebook for communicating between home and school.
  • Eye contact is very important when communicating with deaf or hard-of-hearing adults. Make sure you look directly at parents while communicating.
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Next: Interacting with Deaf Children

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