Many visitors to the Sound Advice site ask this question. Its frequency is notable. There’s no reason a child who’s deaf can’t participate at creche, with the right supports in place. Same as when a child moves to junior infants at primary school.
The team here is aware that some deaf children don’t attend preschool or creches at all. It’s unclear if this happens on the parents’ side, or because a childcare provider is concerned about on-site inclusion. Either way, the situation has to change as the children are entitled to a free preschool year in the government’s ECCE (Early Childhood Care & Education) initiative.
Check this chart with the four communication options for deaf children.
With newborn hearing tests, digital hearing-devices and directed verbal interactions from under one year of age, most preschoolers’ verbal skills will be similar to their hearing peers. Again, teaching approach will vary, based on a child’s communication option.
Stats From 2007
Some key statistics emerged in a 2007 survey of childcare providers in Dublin. While 57% of respondents enrolled children with disability, children with hearing and vision issues were least likely to be included on-site. Conversely, children with speech & language delay, or with emotional/behavioural issues, were most likely to be included on-site.
Significantly, 80% of childcare providers with prior experience of working with children with disability, did not believe their service needed to substantially change to facilitate these children. By contrast, 43% of respondents with no prior experience of including children with disability, expected substantial changes needed to be made to their service.
While these are 2007 statistics, today’s challenges are the same:
- attitudinal (fear and lack of confidence over children with disability)
- institutional (sourcing relevant information, training, resources)
- environmental (concerns about access and spatial issues)
Bottom line: childcare staff need education and in-depth training to acquire skills to work with children with disability on a daily basis. Some feedback received here, is that some industry training for working with children with disability, is insufficiently detailed for the staff’s needs.
Several articles about including deaf children in preschool:
- Is my child deaf? Possible signs to look for.
- Communication Options chart (for reference only)
- Creche and Preschool For Children With Hearing Issues
- Childcare Managers’ Vital Role In Language Skills
- Preschool for verbal deaf children expands in Roseville
- Ten Commandments For Kids With Hearing Issues
- Deafness Is Different In The Digital Hearing-Age
- Educational Supports for Deaf Children in Ireland
- Parent Question: How Early To Teach Lip-reading
- Does Lip-Reading Benefit Infant Reading Ability?
- Communication Development: Linking Items To Words
- Hearing-Aids + Learning = Education
- Early Implants Best For Baby’s Language Progress
- Listening And Talking, With Auditory-Verbal Work
- Part One – Tips From A Mum And Creche Manager
- Part Two – Potential Challenges At Preschool
- Part Three – What Information Sources Were Used
- Visual Learning In The Preschool & Primary Years (PDF file)
Two initial tips: parents & childcare staff must work as a team, and childcare facilities need to advertise that they are inclusive, or strive to be.
Feel free to post your questions below, and we’ll do our best to respond!