Technology Enhances Deaf Education
The following is a guest post from Matt Jenkins, a deaf educator in England whose area of focus is British Sign Language at The Deaf Academy in Exmouth, United Kingdom. As part of Deaf Awareness Month, Matt shares with us the importance of technology in deaf education. To watch this conversation in BSL, click here for Matt’s videos.
Hello! My name is Matt Jenkins, and I am a deaf adult who works in a deaf school based in Exmouth, in the county of Devon in England. My area of expertise is BSL: British Sign Language. I also teach deaf studies and careers and am responsible for the promotion of the Academy and immersion within our community.
As an Academy, we have recently moved to a purpose-built building, which is the perfect opportunity for us to use all the accessibility on Flipgrid. In our old building, we didn’t have the right learning environment or technology for our deaf needs. Now, I can honestly say that using Flipgrid has transformed my teaching and has also transformed my students’ learning.
Efficient Communication: ‘Flipgrid is really an advantage for the deaf community’
It is incredible what we can do on Flipgrid, producing our videos in BSL and uploading them instantaneously. Being able to do this really supports the deaf community – it is so clear! Being able to create videos is so important, as our language is not easily translated onto paper, or to have all the language aspects typed up.
Historically, we would transfer old films and VHS tapes onto DVDs for us to access. Now, however, things have really changed, especially in the field of technology. Flipgrid is really an advantage for the deaf community.
On Flipgrid, we can upload and disseminate any recorded information. For example, my students and me can both use BSL to communicate. I can upload my signed clip, and they can receive the necessary information in their preferred language.
In the past, there has been real pressure for my students and me to converse in our second language, which is written English. I would have to think about what I wanted to say (by signing in BSL), translate that into written English and then pass it on to the students. The student would then have to attempt to read the English (their second language), translate what they think it means into BSL, try and understand the information they have been provided with and then respond. We call this back-translation, which isn’t effective!
Now that we have the resource to do direct communications in BSL, it is lovely! As the teacher, I trust that my students understand the work and objectives. Everything is clear and concise. We definitely value being able to move forward in this manner.
Technology Teaches Empathy: ‘Videos allow students to be more observant’
During their upbringing, most deaf children miss out on vast amounts of vital information due to their hearing loss or level of deafness. Even though this kind of connection is how we understand the world around us, deaf children are not nearly as exposed to the thoughts, perspectives, tones and feelings of those around them.
Having Flipgrid helps tremendously with this exposure. Because real-life situations and conversations tend to happen so quickly that deaf children generally are unable to understand what just happened, videos on Flipgrid allow students to be more observant with information. They can build up a library of clips to review and comprehend on their own time, and feedback can be provided in BSL comments.
Flipgrid offers deaf students of all ages access to the same type of learning and immersive educational experience that hearing children have access to in their daily surroundings. It has been amazing to see the transformation in motivation steaming from the students and to see how this tool has really developed their learning at an amazing pace. It makes me feel quite emotional just thinking about it!
To learn more about Deaf Awareness Month, visit our Discovery Library for Topics to add to your Groups.