Teaching children about deafness

A little boy called Ben was teaching children about deafness today during the first edition of the Festival of Stories. The festival is running this week at the Imaginosity children’s museum in Dublin.

Ben is the hero of a book called “A Birthday for Ben”, which was read to an attentive audience of parents and tots this afternoon. The story highlights some of the challenges faced by children like Ben who are deaf or hard of hearing.

The book stems from a collaboration between three people: Caroline Carswell, the founder of the Irish Deaf Kids (IDK) organisation, writer Kate Gaynor and artist Karen Quirke.

Ms Carswell, who was born with profound sensorineural deafness, explained that the story is partially based on her own experiences as a child.

“Deafness is still seen as a minority issue, but this book is not aimed solely at the parents of deaf children”, she said. “It’s a tool for anyone who wants to make their child aware of the concepts of hearing and deafness.”

During the reading, the children heard Ben talk about his hearing aids and the differences in speech they may notice in someone who is hard of hearing. They felt sorry for Ben at his friend’s birthday party, when he found himself excluded from a game of “pass the parcel” as he could not hear the music.

One clever tot asked why the guests were not playing a game that could include Ben. The story went on to show how games could be made inclusive by the use of flashing lights or coloured cards as visual cues to accompany sounds.

An animated version of the book in British sign language, text and sound was also shown, as the book was animated by ITV last year.


About monicaheck
Monica Heck is a bilingual freelance writer and journalist based in Dublin, Ireland.

One Response to Teaching children about deafness

  1. A new study by Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and the National Institute on Aging state that “Hearing Loss is now linked to may other health problems!” According to their studies, people with hearing loss are much more likely to develop dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. This study goes on to state that “hearing loss left untreated can lead to loneliness, isolation and depression.”

    I have a very special “deaf friend” who tells me that driving a car is very frightening for him. He has to depend totally on his vision to be able to drive safely.

    If you have a hearing loss, don’t put off another minute. Do something right now to improve the quality of your lifestyle through “Better Hearing.”

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