Communication Support Workers
The Deaf Academy employs a team of Communication Support Workers (CSWs). CSWs support students and other individuals in a range of settings. All of our CSWs are trained to BSL Level 3 and above, and some have BSL Level 6 or are qualified interpreters.
The CSW team is a group of professionals employed to provide communication support for students on an individual basis or as part of a group with other deaf students. This takes place at the Academy and in mainstream educational institutions such as primary schools, secondary schools, mainstream colleges, universities and other educational organisations.
The team also support students when taking examinations, attending mainstream school trips or when on work placements.
The Deaf Academy’s bilingual approach to learning means the role of a CSW is multifaceted, which is of huge benefit to Academy students and supporting those students educated in mainstream settings. Whilst BSL is an important communication tool for deaf students, many students have unique learning needs and require more than one form of support day-to-day.
CSWs can also provide signed supported English, note taking, language modification and tutorial support. This level of bespoke support enables students to fully access educational information contained within curriculums and any other educational and social environments, in a manner best suited to their individual needs.
To ensure the best working relationship for both the deaf person and the mainstream organisation/setting, below are some tips and guidance on how to effectively work with CSWs.
A CSW will:
- Always ensure the speaker speaks directly to the deaf person, not to the CSW.
- The CSW is always neutral. They are not allowed to give advice or offer opinions. They will not take sides in any situation.
- CSWs work within a strict professional code of practice. Everything that is discussed will be kept confidential, unless there is a question of risk.
- The CSW will communicate everything that is said or signed. This includes audible asides. However, it is not possible for the CSW to interpret more than one person speaking, and they may ask for people to talk ‘one person at a time’ should the need arise.
- CSWs will adjust their working environment to ensure the seating and lighting is best suited to the deaf person’s needs.
- The CSW will encourage the peer group to include the deaf student.
- The CSW will ask for preparation time and background materials, in order to do the best job they can.