Did you know that September is Deaf Awareness Month? Not only that, but this week is Deaf Awareness Week! I love that Deaf Awareness happens at the beginning of the school year. This is a great opportunity to pour into kids and their classmate's backgrounds and build sensitivity and awareness and being deaf. My experience is that hearing children LOVE to learn about hearing loss, sign language, Deaf Trivia and anything that relates to deafness. In addition, it also tends to offer an opportunity to ask questions and allows your deaf or hard-of-hearing student to be the star of the show. I have seen a single Deaf Awareness presentations break down any stigma associated with the FM system, hearing aids, cochlear implants, sign language interpreters and more.
Below are 11 of my favorite activities you can do for Deaf Awareness Month:
1. Read a good book with Deaf characters.
2. Experience what it's like to watch a movie with no sound and captions only.
Get a real appreciation for the need for quality captions when you experience a movie or the news using captions only.
3. Have your students provide Deaf Trivia on the morning announcements.
Here are some Deaf Fun Facts published by Hearing Like Me last year. This is a great way to build Deaf Awareness in your entire school!
4. Watch a movie with Deaf characters.
Here is an up-to-date list of movies/TV shows and what ages they are appropriate for.
5. Take the UNFAIR SPELLING TEST and get a sense of what it's like to hear with a hearing loss
This activity is a classic - and for good reason!
6. Give your family or classmates a lipreading test to show what it's like to try to lipread conversations.
Check out this short video then make it game by having classmates or family members come up with sentences to try to lipread each other. Of course, another fun way to appreciate the challenge of lipreading is to check out the YouTube channel BAD LIP READING (The NFL videos are always my favorite.)
7. Teach a class the ABCs and 1-100 in American Sign Language.
8. Research famous deaf individuals who changed the world.
Here is one of my favorite lists - I think you'll be amazed at how some deaf/hard of hearing individuals have impacted history.
9. Learn about famous athletes who are deaf or hard of hearing and discuss what kind of barriers they may have encountered during their sports career. How did they break down these barriers and continue on the road to greatness?
10. Learn about accessible technology and how deaf and hard of hearing people use it in the world. Learn about video phones, flashing doorbells, alarm clocks and more!
11. Invite a deaf or hard of hearing individual into your classroom or out for coffee and interview them about their life. Ask questions about how they became deaf, how they communicate, the challenges of living with hearing loss, and "deaf gains" - advantages to being deaf or hard of hearing!
Deaf Awareness Week is a great way to learn about Deaf Culture, the Deaf Community, and famous Deaf Individuals. It's also a great way to create a Deaf CAN attitude and break down barriers.
But don't limit yourself to these activities for only 1 week out of the year. Embed them into your curriculum and family all year long!
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