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Amanda Everitt’s design narrative: raising awareness between deaf and hearing students

A design narrative discussing an awareness building and feedback activity with a group of deaf and hearing students.

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Amanda Everitt
25 March 2013


I worked as a Participation Officer for deaf young people and my role was to engage with this audience and find out their interests, thought and their obstacles through fun and interactive activities, and to use this as a vehicle to influence organisational change from a child-centred perspective.


This 1 hour long activity took place within a school classroom with 5 deaf and 5 hearing students aged 11-18. All the participants knew of each other having seen each other around school, however only two were friends. Students were initially awkward with one other there being a wide range of ages and communication factors present such as students who signed, students who spoke but still needed communication assistance to understand full instructions. The presenter was deaf, and relied on the British Sign Language interpreter to translate the comments of the hearing students, and the BSL interpreter was also on hand to translate the comments of the deaf students to the hearing students. To encourage full disclosure, no other classroom teacher was present. The classroom was of a good size, however tables had to be adjusted from rows to a horseshoe shape so that the deaf students could see and lip-read the hearing students better. Students had access to felt pens and coloured post-it notes so that thoughts and comments could be jotted down. All the students were interested in contributing to improve communication and awareness between deaf and hearing people within the school.


Developing a new resource pack containing films and lesson plans to educate hearing students about deaf students and how to communicate better with them. The measure of success was getting positive feedback on how the students wanted the films and resources to look, and to see improvement in awareness and communication within this group of students to be passed on to other students within the school.






Everyone was asked to introduce themselves, and communication needs were clarified.


Perceptions of deafness

Students were given acceptable and unacceptable terms of deafness (eg handicapped, hearing loss, deaf as a post) and asked to put them into separate piles. Students were asked why they had sorted the cards as they were.  Discussion was had about the different types of deaf people and the different communication styles they had eg signing and/or speaking.


Highlighting the difficulties of lip-reading

Students played a lip-reading game which included getting students into pairs and getting them to turn their voice off and lip-read a few phrases. Their partner had to guess what they were saying. There was discussion about which words were easy and hard to understand, and what factors might impact on lip-reading such as moustaches, environmental factors eg light, context and accents.


Good communication and access

Students were shown different examples of communication and asked to identify which were good and bad examples. Eg using email (good) leaving out a deaf person from a group conversation (bad).


Subtitle styles

Students were shown different subtitle styles from films and asked which font, colour and style they liked. Students were asked to record their comments on post-it notes about which style they liked and why and to post notes on screengrabs of different subtitle styles.


Wrap up

Presenter summarised the key points of the session, what good communication meant and how students could share these with other students.




Objectives were met and interesting thoughts and comments were gained from the students to influence the creation and design of the resources.

The group dynamics were interesting as there was such a wide age range, older students talked more than the younger students and the younger students had to be encouraged to share their thoughts. It might have been better to have a separate session focusing on the look, feel and style of the resources, audio and subtitle access.
However access to the students was limited.

Due to limited time, evaluation of the session in the form of a short questionnaire was sent to the teacher to do with the students, and questions included if the students had talked to each other after the event, and if they had shared some tips from the session with their classmates.


Further sessions were held with deaf and hearing students separately, however it would have been beneficial if several sessions were held with the same group together and separately so as to glean more articulate thoughts and suggestions as deaf students may have been reluctant to share communication difficulties with hearing students.

Extra content

Embedded Content

Mindmap of learning process

Mindmap of learning process

added by Amanda Everitt


Colin Brown
7:35pm 26 March 2013

Hello Amanda

So, I thought on the basis of reciprocity and because this looked like a very interesting design narrative I would offer some comments.

A few things struck me about what you describe.  Firstly, the amount of ground to be covered in quite a tight time period with a group of this nature, not least given the age range involved.  It was interesting to see your comments about the differing involvement across the age groups.  I can also appreciate the (potential) complexity of the dynamics and that this would require thought ful handling.  Secondly, it was really helpful to see the full session described, but could it be broken down further e.g. could the lip reading game be a design narrative in its own right?

It was good to see the objectives were achieved, and I noted your use of a short questionnaire.  How helpful were the responses?  This is something I really need to think about doing.

Finally, I thought your reflections provided a real sense of how you might want to develop things.


Kiran Gawali
8:18pm 28 March 2013

Hi Amanda, 

Overall I would say this is a very clear narrative. The Actions schema gave a real isnight into what you wanted to do.

Like Colin mentioned I am surprised at how much you fitted into that hour! Is this design feasible in a normal class size you think? 

I know you have said that objectives were met for the session but maybe you need to clarify that the resource pack was  used in the school in the results section. 


Maxine Armstrong
2:07pm 31 March 2013

Hi Amanda,

I was very interested to read your narrative. My son is deaf and he was educated in a mainstream school and was usually the only deaf student.

Did all the students attend the same school and if so was it a mainstream school and did it have a hearing unit?


Amanda Everitt
3:39pm 1 April 2013

Colin and Kiran, thanks for your comments I really do appreciate them, yes really! 

Colin, you do have a point. The Lipreading activity could be done on its own. There was a vast amount of material to cover, and the school did not give me much time to play with. Students do have a tight schedule these days, especially when deaf students have to be taken out of their classes for extra one on one support or audiologist appointments. I would have liked to have a series of visits building on the last one and focusing on specific objectives. But I also had my own project objectives to achieve and I could not proceed without the feedback of the students. 

With regard to the questionnaire it was helpful but I did not get as much feedback as if I sent a more detailed q'aire direct to the students, I think I would do that next time. Ideally, I would have liked an evaluation session, wishful thinking perhaps!

Maxine- Yes all the students attended the same school. The school had a deaf unit attached to the core school. It also had fantastic team of teachers too who really cared about the students and made sure they had a good rapport with the rest of the school plus involving them in extracurricular activities such as my visit. 

Avril sweeney
2:46pm 2 April 2013

Amanda, I like your design narrative about raising awareness between deaf and hearing students. I found it interesting because I have an interest in children with special needs and resources in schools.

Can I ask a question, why was there a need for organisational change from a child-centred perspective? Also, would you mind if I ask you about the task - What did the resource pack consist of (what kind of films and lesson plans?).

I like the idea of the resource pack and as you say 'improvement in awareness and communication within this group of students to be passed on to other students within the school'.

thank you


Amanda Everitt
9:41am 10 April 2013

Hi Avril, 

Thanks for your very interesting question. Yes, there is always a need for an organisational change to include the perspectives of children and young people. We often make decisions, set up projects and we may have the best interests of the child at heart but when we ask the child what they want, the answers are often different from what the adult wants for them. So in best practice, we can integrate the wishes of the children into longer term planning, and at a higher level we can involve the child in the process of change rather than allowing them to be a token. 

You can view the resources at there are films showing top communication tips, and the lesson plans contain activities on how to become a better communicator in general and they have the additional benefit of improving communication between deaf and hearing students. 



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