Software and e-learning tools have massive potential in teaching deaf or hard-of-hearing children if they are adapted for full accessibility.
With software tools, deaf children can hear to learn new vocabulary, numeracy and literacy skills, phonics and social skills in a structured way. Strategic video games can be used by deaf teens to learn to make choices, understand the world and to develop their imaginations.
Technology: A Leveller And Tool For Decisions
Computer skills are essential for deaf children – for communication, and for future careers, using technology as the leveller for all workers. A key issue is that software engineers need to understand deafness to deliver products geared to deaf students of all ages.
Online simulators can explain what deafness is like, but deaf people should also be involved in product-testing and feedback stages. This way, deaf-friendly products are devised to complement the national curriculum and enhance a student’s understanding of topics.
According to the NCTE, IT tools benefit deaf students by:
- improving literacy and numeracy levels
- increasing independence, confidence, motivation and social contact
- enabling contact (email, chat, video-conferencing, online forums & social media)
- providing a visual, affirmative learning experience
If e-learning tools can be “paused” and saved for resumption at a later time, this allows for breaks such as a teacher explaining a new concept. Alternatively the student may just need a break from learning, and retain their motivation by stopping at that point.
For best results, the NCTE advises teachers to tacitly integrate IT tools into lessons with clearly defined goals. In other words, the e-learning solution should directly relate to the goals identified by the teacher and complement the curriculum where possible.