What is Visual Phonics by Hand?

We know that good literacy skills are vital for all children and predict later success and attainment. Deaf children need to have the best possible reading skills to access learning through any media. It is vital that if they are to become skilled participators in 21st century life, they have the best possible reading and writing skills - important for access to books, text and Information Communication Technology.

The system was designed to offer a fair access for deaf children to the phonic element of words and can be used in any situation where attention needs to be drawn to a sound or phoneme. It offers a simple, easy- to -learn method of increasing the involvement of deaf pupils in the teaching of high quality synthetic phonics.

VPbH was initially developed to solve some of the problems of teaching Deaf children to read, but its use has gone further and wider. It is being used in many contexts: for deaf children who are integrated in mainstream classes by their Teachers of the Deaf; by assistants working one-to-one; by teachers with groups of deaf children in Special schools or resource bases. It has been found to be an effective tool for Speech and Language therapists in schools and clinics and has been used by mainstream teachers of children in other languages!

Anything that is good for deaf children in education is great for hearing children, and the extra kinaesthetic approach of VPbH is likely to be popular with their hearing friends too.

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About Babs Day

Babs Day trained as a special needs teacher in Nottingham in 1975, working first in Bedfordshire and as a VSO in Jamaica, WI. After becoming a Teacher of the Deaf in 1980, she has worked with all ages and abilities of deaf children. After a first Headship in a mainstream Junior School she returned to Longwill Special School in Birmingham as Headteacher in 2005.

She has always had a particular interest in the teaching of English literacy to deaf children and has worked with National Working Groups pioneering and developing Sign-Bilingual approaches to deaf education. This work developed throughout the introduction of the National Curriculum, SATS and the Literacy Strategy. Babs developed VPbH as a way of making the phonic aspects of words easy to see, basing it on fingerspelling, a strong skill of young deaf children. It has been found by many 'grassroots' teachers to be useful as a tool for learning because of its simplicity and easy logic.

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