Deaf Awareness Project


The school Support for Students department expressed an interest in including deaf awareness in their Personal and Social Education curriculum on disability. The Community Education Department identified volunteer trainers with deaf charities who provided deaf awareness training. Both the Community Education and the Support for Students departments saw the value in exploring the impact on people’s lifestyles as a result of being hard of hearing, with a number of the students. As the project developed with senior students, the potential for developing an intergenerational dimension evolved.

Wester Hailes Education Centre (WHEC) is a centre for adult life-long learning, recreation sport and secondary education for 12-18 yr olds. Disability awareness is part of the Personal and Social Education curriculum. One in six adults in the population have a hearing loss, therefore we have deafened members within our learning community. Some school students will have a hearing loss.


  • To raise awareness of the impact, being hard of hearing has, on people‘s lifestyles.
  • To improve relations between the older volunteer trainers and the younger generation.
  • To raise awareness, improve communication and increase understanding regarding the needs of deafened people
  • To increase the levels of respect between the generations. (The trainers own communications needs would be better understood and respected, adding to their sense of being valued).
  • To increase level of knowledge, confidence and skills for the 6th year students who volunteered to become co trainers
  • To increase deaf awareness across the school and local community

Twenty two sixth year students were involved in the first session of the deaf awareness training delivered by the two older volunteer trainers. A team of 6 students from this class of 22 chose to be become co-trainers with the older trainers and they in turn delivered 4 deaf awareness sessions to a total of 40 first and 40 second year students.

The two older volunteer trainers were partnered with a teacher to collectively plan an attractive actively participatory programme of learning that students would enjoy. A Community Education worker supported the volunteers, linking students and the support for students department.

Activities included

  • A DVD showing aspects of a hearing dog’s training was shown to the students.
  • Older volunteer trainers shared their experience of being deafened as a child.
  • Communication strategies such as fingerspelling/a little sign language were explained and students were given the chance to practise finger spelling amongst themselves and the older people.
  • Students participated in lip reading exercises

An “Action on Hearing Loss(external)”: trainer (older volunteer) ran an awareness session on the potential of hearing damage due to loud MP3’s, clubbing. Students had an opportunity to use “Soundhead(external)”: to check on dangerous decibel levels when listening to music or other sounds.

Benefits for the Community

  • Increased awareness of hard of hearing and deaf within the community
  • Increased respect – The development of 1st, 2nd and 6th year students taking part in the deaf awareness training has improved the chances of building a community where there is more respect for those with a sensory impairment .
  • Increased empathy and better communication strategies between the generations
  • Once publicised within the school, the project raised awareness throughout the staff and student population regarding the importance of inclusion and consideration for students with a hearing loss in the school/adult community and in the wider community.

Benefits for the Younger People

  • The 6th year students formed positive warm relationships with the older trainers
  • The teachers and trainers felt the sixth year volunteers were open to a new ways of thinking about hearing disability and quickly learned how to be part of a creative team, taking responsibility to memorise fingerspelling
  • Student presentations showed increased confidence in speaking in a group.
  • Increased respect – younger people showed respect towards the deafened trainers
  • Increased communication skills

Benefits for the Older People

  • The older volunteer trainers developed programmes with staff at WHEC which were valued and appreciated and they were enthusiastic about learning new ways of presenting their information.
  • Increased respect for younger people
  • Increased skills and confidence – the older people were able to take the lead and become effective trainers, demonstrating problem solving and good communication skills given the challenges of adapting the programme around the needs of the school students and the school timetable as well as delivering deaf awareness.


Action on Hearing Loss provided materials and equipment and WHEC offered volunteers lunches and other refreshments.


The 6th year team members were recruited as volunteers and were informed that would be able to attain the Saltire first level award for their involvement.


The evaluation process is perhaps amongst the weakest aspects of the project and it is hoped that we will evolve an effective way of recording school students responses next year. We did however discuss the progress and satisfaction of the volunteers, the voluntary agency and teaching staff involved. A report was sent to Wester Hailes Education Centre Senior Management for information and discussion.

At the end of the project the 6th year students held a charity concert and donated the money raised to deaf awareness agencies.

Next steps

WHEC plan to run a similar programme for 4th, 5th and 6th yr students, working with the older volunteer trainers. The trainers hope to expand their programme to include more training sessions, more material and further roles for 6th year. The programme could expand to incorporate other sensory loss voluntary organisations.

The Community Education Worker hopes to develop opportunities to incorporate and consolidate fingerspelling skills learned in the deaf awareness training in school. One teacher already does some finger spelling in her Geography classes. It is also hoped that other deafened adults could be included take part in cross-generational spelling competitive fun events.

Action on Hearing Loss (AHL) can see value in the Community Education worker, as project coordinator undertaking their accredited training in Deaf Awareness. Training would improve communications, highlight the support provided by WHEC and AHL which would in turn support 6th yrs into thinking more widely about working with deaf and hard of hearing people as a career.

This project contributes to the Scottish National Performance Framework (NPF)

Scottish NPF Objectives

The main NPF objectives that this project contributes to is:

  • Smarter will also focus on being better educated, more skilled and more successful
  • Wealthier and Fairer will support activities that address inequalities and enhance skills, employability and job opportunities. It builds on the characteristics of solidarity, cohesion and sustainability to ensure that all of Scotland has an opportunity to flourish.

This NPF objective could also apply:

  • Healthier will enable people to live longer and healthier lives

Scottish NPF Outcomes

Our young people are successful learners, confident individuals, effective contributors and responsible citizens: To enable children, young people and (subsequently) adults to thrive from an early age, and make a positive contribution in the 21st century.

We realise our full economic potential with more and better employment opportunities for our people: If everyone has the opportunity to work, improve their skills and make a positive contribution to the nation’s increasing prosperity, we will create a wealthier, fairer and smarter Scotland.

We live longer, healthier lives: Securing longer healthier lives for the people of Scotland will always be a top priority for governments and individuals alike. There are significant challenges which can only be addressed by everyone in Scotland working together, pursuing this goal through improving lifestyles and life circumstances, and a shared ownership of an effective NHS.

Our people are able to maintain their independence as they get older, and are able to access appropriate support when they need it: Providing high quality care and support to an ageing population is a fundamental principle of social justice and is an important hallmark of a caring and compassionate society. Collectively we need to give priority to ensuring that older people receive the care, compassion, support and dignity they need and deserve.