Watchwords - Deaf Awareness for Teachers

Enter the WatchWords Resource

Please note this resource has been created in Macromedia Flash. 


A team of deaf learners at Sussex Downs College has produced media rich, interactive guidance designed to provide greater awareness of deaf issues for staff within educational institutions.

John Webber (Senior Lecturer in e-Learning) said: “The Watch Words CD is designed to share some of the insights we have gained by working with deaf students and staff. Giving deaf learners and support staff the stage and inviting them to tell us what they need to help them learn, has revealed just how much they can teach us. We hope that others will enjoy and learn as much from using the CD as we have through making it.”

Jisc Techdis have been keen to be involved in the dissemination of the Watch Words project. It provides practical guidance on interacting with deaf and hard of hearing learners within a teaching and learning environment. A range of video clips exemplify key points and - most importantly - give specific insights into the learner’s perspectives. The learners of Sussex Downs College and their support workers were closely involved in every aspect of the creation of this material. 

Unique Insight

A unique feature in Watchwords is the video simulation “Try ItYourself” where the user changes place with a deaf student to participate in a lesson delivered solely in sign language. This provides a great appreciation of the isolation someone can feel when facing accessibility barriers.

Following the sign language experience the same lesson is re-run with the addition of visual aids, highlighting how simple adaptations can provide a much more inclusive learning and teaching environment.

Contents of Watchwords Resource

The guidance on the resource contains information on the following topics:

  • Deaf Awareness – Containing information as to why it is important to have awareness of deaf and hard of hearing issues.
  • Try It Yourself – This section contains a simulation of a learning situation which places you in shoes of a deaf learner. As the simulation and situation progresses a more inclusive learning environment is made available.
  • Meeting Deaf People – This section aims to give hints and tips as to how people should act and interact when meeting a deaf or hard of hearing person for the first time.
  • In the Classroom – This section provides realistic video footage illustrating good and bad practice when interacting with deaf students in a teaching and learning environment.
  • Communication Without Words - Facial expression, visual clues and natural gestures are important in everyday conversation, this section contains tips as to how to communicate non-verbally.
  • Simple Signs – Contained within this section is an A to Z list of simple signs relating to teaching and learning activities which may be useful when interacting with a deaf learner.

Credit and Acknowledgements

Watchwords was created by a team of students and staff at Sussex Downs College. Thanks go to: Angelle Stonell, Annie Langley, David Sands, Dana Curtis, Hira Sallem and Roger Griffiths. The development team for this resource was: Alex Wirtz, Barry Hacker, John Webber and Sandra Phillips. 


Copyright for the Watchwords material remains with Sussex Downs College, but has been licensed to Jisc Techdis for distribution within the UK Education Community for non-profit use.

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