May 03, 2024

Deaf Awareness Week 2024

An annual event, Deaf Awareness Week – which takes place from 6th to the 12th May in 2024 – is about making more people aware of the challenges faced by the deaf community and to educate around the support they can offer. It’s also a great opportunity to shine a spotlight on the related work of our dedicated colleagues and achievement of pupils across the Trust.

Year-round, Lionheart work hard to remove barriers to ensure that all the young people within our 14 Leicester and Leicestershire schools have an equal chance to be successful, regardless of their background or circumstances.  

Encompassing this pupil-centred approach, in 2019 Lionheart, in association with the local authority, opened the county’s only Hearing Impairment Centre, at Beauchamp College. With dedicated expertise and tailormade resources, this facility provides first-class support to the members of our deaf and hearing-impaired community. 

Katie Lowe, a Communication Support Worker based within the Hearing Impairment Centre, undertakes pivotal work each day to ensure the deaf and hearing-impaired students she works with are able to access the curriculum. 

“I look through lesson plans to pick out the key information and new vocabulary,” she says. 

“I then create resources bespoke to each lesson with new vocabulary, pictures and sign graphics to help as the more visuals are used, the better.”  

This ensures that these students are able to obtain a stronger grasp of the curriculum, allowing them to thrive and achieve academically. 

With British Sign Language (BSL) set to be taught as an official GCSE in England from 2025, Lionheart are ahead of the curve, with Katie – along with colleagues - extending their work beyond the core students they support. Katie runs a weekly course for both staff and students at Beauchamp College to learn BSL, so not only can they learn a new school but also support their hearing-impaired peers. 

“I work with a student who is profoundly deaf and we also have a number of children who have hearing impairments,” Katie explained. 

“There is a lot of interest in BSL and I thought it would be a great opportunity to raise the profile in schools and help to create a more inclusive environment.” 

Meeting after school every week, the group spend time working on the BSL alphabet and focus on important elements of language, including numbers, questions, days, months, colours, weather and transport. Emphasis is also placed on seasonal topics such as Halloween, Easter and Christmas. 

“It is important that BSL is taught in schools as it allows children in the deaf community to communicate more easily with their peers and teachers,” said Katie. 

“It also helps to improve communication skills and allows participants to embrace a new culture.”  

So what’s next? 

We’re immensely proud that a number of pupils from Lionheart schools are currently learning the BSL signing of the ‘This is Me’ song from ‘The Greatest Showman,’ which they intend to showcase at our Trust-wide event – ‘Lionheart Speaks’ – in June.