Almost half of Scotland’s Teachers of the Deaf are also due to retire in the next ten to 15 years.
When you refer to a Teacher of the Deaf, most people imagine someone standing in front of a classroom signing.
This assumption is understandable, as clearly a teacher who specialises in giving lessons to deaf children might use British Sign Language (BSL) to communicate with their pupils.
However, the reality is these specialist teachers do so much more. They work with youngsters dealing with all levels of hearing loss – from mild to moderate to severe or profound.
They liaise with families at home as soon as a deaf diagnosis is made and many travel across their whole local authority area, giving one-to-one support to youngsters who rely on hearing aids and cochlear implants.
Amidst all this, they also advise mainstream teachers on how best to communicate with deaf children and help fellow pupils understand the challenges their deaf classmates contend with. In a nutshell, a Teacher of the Deaf (ToD) is a vital resource for children who have a hearing impairment.
Another common misconception is that all children who are deaf go to “special” schools or, more accurately, ones which deal with additional needs.
A staggering 87% of deaf children in Scotland actually attend mainstream schooling. This policy of inclusion and integration is obviously well-intended and commended, particularly if it reduces stigma, but only if it doesn’t come at the cost of educational attainment. The truth is that there is still a significant attainment gap for deaf children.