The students met with students and their parents to present their ideas

New guidance from specially-trained deaf role models aims to boost participation, aspiration and achievement at university from deaf and hard of hearing young people.

The support is inspired by their experiences, successes and challenges they have faced. It will boost self-advocacy skills, self-confidence, resilience and aspiration.

Those running the scheme want to help deaf students overcome barriers and find support when they move on to university. Deaf students are underrepresented in higher education.

The Deaf Role Models project, funded by the University of Exeter’s Centre for Social Mobility, is designed to raise aspirations among deaf students, who are underrepresented in higher education.

The advice is also designed to support greater retention, as deaf students are more likely to drop out of studies in their early months at university. The project team hope to publish the guide so it can be used by deaf students and their families and Higher Education Institutions around the country.

Four deaf and hard of hearing university students have worked together to produce guidance for younger deaf students about to go on to higher education.

The students met with students and their parents to present their ideas.  

Dr Hannah Anglin-Jaffe, from the University of Exeter, who is leading the project, said: “It has been very moving to work with the pupils and students, and hear their stories of resilience and overcoming barriers. The guidance we have produced covers self-advocacy, resilience, overcoming barriers and positive deaf identity.

“We hope our resources will be used by more young people in the future. This will be a unique guide because it is based on the lived experience of young people. Currently deaf students are underrepresented in higher education and more likely to drop out. We want to help change that by providing authentic guidance.”

Researchers are interviewing those who took part to analyse the impact of the guidance and how it can be expanded to reach other young people.

The guidance was written with Georgina Horrocks, who is studying Applied Community and Social Care BA Hons at UCLan; Malik El Mazouri, a University of Exeter Marketing & Management student; Olivia Cowhig, who is studying BSL, Deaf Studies and Linguistics at York St John University and Mohammed Hasnaine, who is studying for a BA in Business & Management at UCLAN.

Georgia said: “I got a lot out of the whole experience myself, more than I thought I would. Myself and another student had a lot of conversations around it so itinspired us. So, I’m pleased I decided to sign up.”

Malik said: “I enjoyed the project very much, it was great to talk to the others and share my experiences.”

Hasnaine said: “I am really happy with it because it is important to encourage many deaf young people going university and advise them. It made me want to encourage many deaf young people who want to go to university because it is important for them and their parents too.”

The guidance covers accessibility at university and who to ask when help is needed. It encourages young people to advocate for themselves so their needs are met and provides some strategies for working in a group during their course.

Deaf students can find it hard to communicate with their peers at university and may become socially isolated. The guidance helps young people understand all university experiences are unique and they should talk to others, even though that can be daunting. It encourages them to let others know they are deaf or hard of hearing to allow them to adapt.

The guidance outlines different ways to socialise at university, in halls, societies and events. It shows how universities can provide support to make communication easier such as interpreters, teaching others basic BSL, transcribing and text messaging.

The project team is Hannah Anglin-Jaffe and Dongbo Zhang from the University of Exeter, Lee Fullwood, from Spires College, Matt Jenkins, from the Deaf Academy, Sana Rizvi, from Liverpool John Moores University and Junhui Yang from Uclan.

Dr Rizvi said: “The mentors really took the lead in answering questions and anticipating issues to successful transition in HE. I learned so many new insights that are not typically covered in literature.”

The project is a collaboration between experts from the University of Exeter, University of Central Lancashire, Liverpool John Moores University. Spires College and the Deaf Academy.