Fostering children who are deaf

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Fostering children who are deaf

It  can be especially difficult assessing and planning for the needs of deaf children when they come into foster care. Statistical data requirements in the UK do not require that specific types of disability are recorded. This means the total numbers of deaf children in care are unknown -according to information from the National Deaf Children’s Society. The numbers are thought to be low, but such children will have specific needs that require to be met. Work has been done by the Society canvassing the views of carers fostering children who are deaf, as well deaf children themselves. The chief concerns that foster carers expressed were that there was a lack of information as to how best to prepare for the arrival of a deaf child. They felt if they needed information, it was very much up to them to pick it up as they went along. Social workers were recognised generally as being supportive, but did not seem to have an understanding as to the child/young person’s needs in relation to their deafness. Carers thought that this must have an impact on the care that social workers could give.

For any child, going into care can be a time of great insecurity, disorientation and emotional upheaval. This experience can only be more isolating if a child is deaf. Unsurprisingly, the children in the survey said the most important thing was that their carers and social workers could communicate with them. Fostering children who are deaf will require great attention is paid to communication.

What is needed is support – along with commitment and encouragement. There are different methods of communication which can be put into three main groups:

listening and speaking (Auditory – Oral)

sign language as a first language (sign – bilingual)

using a combination of methods in a flexible way – sign, speech and hearing, finger spelling, gesture, facial expression and lipreading (Total communication)

For more information visit:

Fostering children who are deaf: ways of communicating

Fostering children who have hearing problems

When fostering children, there are also some misconceptions that people have about deafness.

1 – All children who are deaf use sign language. This is not true: quite a lot of deaf children do use sign language, but there are different ways to communicate and each child will choose the way that works best for them.

2 – Deaf children are unable to experience and enjoy music. Because the degree of deafness can vary widely, many deaf children love music. Some may not hear music fully but can sense the vibrations. Technology combining with medical advances has also made it possible for deaf children to access music. Wireless communication and cochlear implants have created major advances in deaf children being able to enjoy music.

3 – Lip reading is something that all deaf children can do. This is not the case. Becoming proficient at lip reading requires considerable effort and concentration. Only around 30% of lip patterns are recognisable demonstrating the degree of difficulty involved.

4 – Television cannot be enjoyed as deaf children cannot hear it. Again, this is not true mainly due to advances in technology and medical techniques.

5 – Deaf children are unable to use a phone. This is not the case as especially amplified phones are available. Text messaging is also used  – just as it is for people with normal hearing.

6 – When children are deaf, they are nonetheless able to hear everything by having hearing aids in or by using cochlear implants. This is not true: although hearing aids can help focus sounds and amplify them, it doesn’t mean deaf children hear in exactly the same way as people with normal hearing. Cochlear implants can carry sound directly to the brain, but again the experience of ‘hearing’ is not the same as for a person who is  not deaf.

And the good news at the end of this fostering rainbow…we will be arranging a series of coffee mornings for our carers later in the year as part of our 18th anniversary activities. We are hoping they might bring along friends or acquaintances that might have an interest in fostering children.

1 Comment

  1. Ardelia Smuin says:

    What a nice post! I quite liked reading it.

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