Tina Kemp works as a deaf educational instructor at several primary schools in London, with most of her time focused at Brimsdown School in Enfield.
Tina is deaf herself, which gives her an in-depth understanding of deaf children’s needs.
“My role is to teach deaf awareness and British Sign Language (BSL) to mainstream schools,” she says. “Deaf children at Brimsdown have deaf studies once a week to learn about their identities, cultures, technologies, local deaf clubs and much more.
“Additionally, I aim for them to get a level one certificate in BSL before they leave their primary school.”
She believes all schools should teach BSL as part of their foreign languages requirement.
In the UK, 12 million people are deaf or hard of hearing, with 151,000 of these people using BSL. Current estimates are that by 2035, 14.2m adults and around 50,000 children in the UK will be hearing impaired.
Tina started as a teaching assistant in a mainstream classroom, where she gave one-to-one support to deaf children by signing instructions from the teacher to them.
“From there, I went to work in a specialist deaf provision before then becoming a deaf instructor. As a deaf person myself, I feel I am a good role model to show deaf children what they can do in the future.
“A lot of deaf children, particularly in mainstream, don’t know their true identity. This is what I teach them through deaf studies as I teach them to become independent.”
Tina describes how improvements to accessibility for deaf children make classrooms much more accessible overall. “It doesn’t just help deaf children. It helps children who have English as a second language, who learn English better thanks to the adjustments we’re making.
“It also helps the autistic pupils who can then take part in the lessons more easily. It’s a very inclusive environment.
“I always look forward to coming into work,” she adds. “Everyone wants to learn BSL and get quite upset if they can’t – we will always find ways around this. I trust everyone at work and this makes me feel really safe.”
UNISON’s annual celebration of school support staff, Stars in Our Schools, is on 27 November this year. Find out more, nominate a star, or access resources, here.