Barbara Wolter

2nd June 2006 at 01:00
Barbara Wolter is a peripatetic teacher of the deaf with Telford and Wrekin education authority, working in schools throughout Shropshire.

"We support children from babies right through to further education - a very varied case load. Their level of hearing loss determines how many hours of support we give.

For a profoundly deaf young child, you go into their school or nursery five days a week. Children with severe or moderate hearing loss get seen less frequently but still regularly.

All our children are fitted with hearing aids. So the first part of our job is maintaining them.

When a child goes into a new class, we run a two-day course for their teachers and assistants. The first day deals with the hearing aids and equipment. The second day we look at the other main factor in hearing impairment - the delay in language development.

This morning I was in a mainstream primary school supporting a profoundly deaf Year 1 girl who has a cochlear implant. Sometimes I work in the class, or if there was something she needed support with I would have helped prepare her for the lesson the day before.

I set up a programme with her class teacher to go through her planning, talking about what she will cover that week that will be difficult for the child, and what needs differentiating.

The most important thing with young profoundly deaf children is to talk.

Sometimes, I take the child out on a one-to-one basis, and we might look at a book and talk about what's happening in the pictures.

When a child is going into a new school or changes class, sometimes we help with simple things like making sure people remember to close the door, or if there's work going on outside, shut the window to keep down background noise.

This afternoon I drove to my second appointment at a special school. We do the technical back-up there, too. And again we give advice based on what the teacher is planning, and again it's a mixture of working with a child in class and some one-to-one.

The work is fascinating. It can be exhausting because schools do not work on the same schedules. You come out of one school and drive to another in time for their session. You have to be good at juggling and organising your time. But it is exciting."

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