It is the case that all learners’ early life educational experiences – whether they be positive or negative – impact upon how they will approach learning as an adult.

However, deaf learners have some aspects that are unique and need to be considered in their current learning context as well as by you, their teacher.

You may have already read material on this site that refers to the impact of significant, early life deafness.  In brief, a deaf child requires specialist intervention and assistance in order to develop his or her primary language.  A deaf child needs to be consciously taught nearly everything and there is little to no opportunity for the child to experience incidental learning by overhearing what goes on in the world around him or her.

This unusual position means that the early life experiences of learning – as well as often their experiences in compulsory education – are distinct and unlike the learning experiences we have had.  Some of the ways that they differ and some of the common outcomes include:

Difference Experience Common Outcomes
Little to no unconscious learning Extensive intervention, one-to-one to teach what other children learn by listening to the world around them ++ Persistence of gaps in knowledge

++  Little experience of being an independent learner

++  Decreased understanding about how to find and analyse information

Persistence of gaps in general knowledge Extensive intervention, one-to-one to teach what other children just know ++  Frequently experience embarrassment and humiliation at lack of knowledge

++  Sometimes victimised, bullied or teased by other students

++  Often feels stupid or inferior

++  Often reluctant to undertake further learning

Extensive specialist intervention to support learning Does not have a need to analyse and explore learning environments; all needs are generally anticipated and addressed by specialist educators ++  Finds independent learning challenging and often doesn’t know where to begin

++  Finds articulating own learning needs difficult

++  Often expects teacher guidance and support