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Comment from BATOD President on Oscar-winning film ‘The Silent Child’

Posted in News


The British Association of Teachers of the Deaf (BATOD) welcomes the Oscar winning film ‘The Silent Child’ as a wonderful opportunity to raise awareness in this country and abroad.


In addition to our UK work, BATOD are currently supporting communication in Nicaragua:


BATOD member Kathy Owston recently reported on her support to deaf children in Nicaragua – in particular her time working in the special school in Estelí which has centred on gathering as much information as possible about what is happening there and to encourage communication between the different groups who are working in the field of deafness so that people work together more cohesively ( on NSL see this old BBC post).

Our September 2012 Magazine was a special edition on Deaf Education around the World.

In the UK Teachers of the Deaf (ToD) work closely with families to support language, communication and development.

Basic sign language skills are part of the Mandatory Qualification for ToDs).

Colleagues can choose to extend their skills further and often do (myself included) (see https://www.signature.org.uk/british-sign-language)

You will see from the NDCS Report on Social Care in England (see this page of the NDCS website) that 16% of local authorities or social care teams had a dedicated worker for deaf children and 84% of these workers combine these duties with other responsibilities (e.g. support to vision impaired children). Across England, only two social workers were identified who work solely with deaf children and young people. It is clear that many local authorities are relying on education professionals to identify and meet the social care needs of deaf children.

So, a Teacher of the Deaf as part of the Local Authority Sensory Support team may be more likely to see deaf children than Social Workers.

ToDs help the family make an informed choice about communication options (see the Communication section of the Early Support professional handbook)

For example, some practical examples from services that support Informed Choice for families include:

  • Encouraging parents to meet a range of families who have made different communication choices.
  • Providing access to a range of professionals who can explain specific communication choices, the implications of specific choices and the evidence base relating to outcomes.
  • Supporting families in reviewing their choices and making available resources that support change, if desired. Providing independent publications that explain and discuss different communication choices.

Teachers of the Deaf work in inclusive ways to support all deaf children to realise their potential.

Some of the keys aims of BATOD that I have supported as President are:

  • promoting excellence in the education of all deaf children and students
  • supporting the status of the mandatory qualification and providing and
  • commissioning high quality continuing professional development.

Stuart Whyte, BATOD President

Since this note was written the Prime Minister has praised the skill of the deaf actress in the Oscar-winning film in the Prime Minster’s Questions of 7th March 2018. It can be viewed here