Deaf children have a right to be understood

Kilcoy mother Karla Tomlinson with her deaf 11-year-old son, Ollie. CONTRIBUTED

Deaf Children Australia is leading the charge towards providing deaf friendly resources and training in pre and primary schools across the country.

A DCA national survey revealed parents of deaf and hard of hearing children have raised concerns over a ‘lack of deaf awareness in schools’ which could impact their children’s learning outcomes and development.

Kilcoy resident Karla Tomlinson has a deaf 11-year-old son named Ollie and was one of thousands of parents across the country whose concerns were echoed in DCA’s survey results.

“All students, regardless of their abilities, have the right to fully participate and be understood by their teachers, school staff and peers,” Ms Tomlinson said.

“When it comes to additional assistance in an educational setting, there can be limited options for families who live in regional and rural areas, so it’s important for schools to show awareness and be prepared and do more to include children who require extra attention.”

‘Inadequate learning support from teachers’ and failure to meet learning outcomes in mainstream schools emerged as common concerns amongst the DHH community through the survey.

The lack of support at an educational level has flowed onto concerns around bullying (shared by 90 per cent of parents surveyed), missing out on making friends (84 per cent) and getting a good job (68 per cent).

To bridge the gap and build inclusivity within regional and rural communities, DCA has called upon schools, families and locals to provide insight into the challenges they faced when including, communicating and understanding DHH children.

DCA major projects head Sarah Brennan said limited skills and confidence about deaf awareness could leave both parties vulnerable to numerous challenges.

“Not only does it create a communication barrier in the immediate term, but it can significantly impact a child’s learning and development as they progress through school,” Mrs Brennan said.

“With help from regional and rural primary schools, we can develop resources that will address their direct concerns and hopefully lead to a more inclusive, productive environment.”