9 March, 2024

Schools are deaf to needs

Kilcoy local Karla Tomlinson has joined thousands of parents across the country, advocating for schools, particularly in rural and regional areas, to improve their inclusion and understanding of deaf and hard of hearing (DHH) children.

Schools are deaf to needs - feature photo

A new national survey conducted by Deaf Children Australia (DCA) has revealed “inadequate learning support from teachers” and failure to meet learning outcomes in mainstream schools emerged as common concerns amongst the DHH community.

The lack of support at an educational level has flowed onto concerns around bullying (shared by 90% of parents surveyed), missing out on making friends (84%) and getting a good job (68%).

Ms Tomlinson, mother of 11-year-old Ollie who is deaf, has named some of the challenges she has seen and experienced, including limited access to specialised resources and trained professionals, and lack of awareness surrounding the individual needs of a child.

“Hearing loss is a spectrum, meaning all children, regardless of the degree of their loss, will need different supports based on their own individual development and communication needs,” she said.

“Not understanding their needs and having access to individual supports can make kids feel isolated and their learning challenging.”

Ms Tomlinson also emphasised the importance of schools promoting a more inclusive mindset within the school community, saying “schools need to be prepared and open to deaf awareness training, to ensure staff and students are aware of the issues faced by deaf pupils”.

This is a challenge in every school, but rural areas are further set back due to not having the same access as their city counterparts for reasons such as locality, budget restraints and staff shortages.

This makes Ms Tomlinson’s advocating even more important, as she wants to help break down barriers, allowing “all kids to reach their full potential despite their geographical locations”.

In an attempt to bridge the gap and build inclusivity within regional and rural communities, DCA is calling upon its schools, families and locals to provide insight into the challenges they face.

Schools, communities and families can complete DCA’s quick survey on the topic, as well as participate in more in-depth, one-on-one interviews to further discuss their challenges and needs.

Should school staff, community members or parents wish to have their say, and be willing to join in the conversation, please email or visit


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