Are you a teacher or member of school support staff with an interest in working with children who have a hearing impairment (HI)? If so, then you should probably consider doing some British Sign Language (BSL) training, if you haven’t done so already.
How many children in the UK have a hearing impairment?
One in seven people in the UK and one in two people over the age of 60, have some degree of hearing loss according to The Royal National Institute for Deaf People. According to the statistics, over 120,000 deaf adults and about 20,000 children in the United Kingdom use BSL to communicate with other people.
Of these 20,000 children, many will need a teacher or member of school support staff who can use British Sign Language. This is because, although these children may be learning to lip read, there are often situations in the classroom where someone is speaking too quickly, or their mouth is not visible as they talk. It might be because the teacher is facing the board, or simply because the HI child isn’t looking directly at the person who is trying to get their attention. In addition to this, we must consider children with other special educational needs which may limit their ability to learn to lip read. It is therefore essential that we have staff available who can offer BSL support.
HI support staff are often BSL translators
If you are working/seeking work as a member of HI support staff, you may find yourself effectively working as a translator between a teacher (who may have no BSL knowledge at all) and a child who can only communicate in this way. It is therefore often essential that you are a strong verbal communicator, as well as being well versed in British Sign Language if you are to effectively provide support in a classroom setting.
What level of BSL training is required?
Most schools will ask for staff who are trained to a minimum standard of British Sign Language Level 2. This gives a strong enough foundation to support children, although if you are trained to a higher level, this is of course even better! Sadly, level 1 training alone is not usually sufficient, so if your current training is to BSL L1 standard, it would be well worth considering taking it to the next stage if you’d like to work in schools.
I’m a TA/Teacher who would like to do some BSL training – where can I sign up?
If you are a teacher or member of school support staff who would like to enhance your employment prospects by undertaking some BSL training, the options are vast! From various online courses, to home study, evening classes and intensive weekend classes, there is bound to be something to suit you. Your local college or university is usually a very good place to start. However, we would recommend checking that whatever course you sign up for will end up with an official award/qualification – this will help you on your road to further study and/or work.
I’m BSL trained and would like to find teaching or support work in schools – how do I go about this?
If you are already trained to BSL Level 2 or higher, and you would like to work in a school setting, why not contact your nearest Axcis team? You will be put in touch with your personal consultant who can discuss your skills, experience and needs in detail, and help to guide you to a suitable place of work. Many of the schools and alternative provisions we work with can offer support and on the job training, so don’t count yourself out just because a you haven’t done classroom based work before.
Finally – don’t forget that at Axcis, we offer a generous refer-a-friend scheme, so if you’re not looking for work but know someone else who might be, why not contact us with their details – you could earn yourself up to £250 in shopping vouchers as a thank-you!