The Covid-19 pandemic’s impact on the educational experiences of deaf students will be examined by University of the West of Scotland (UWS) researchers.

The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)-funded project, which is expected to take 18 months, will provide an in-depth exploration across the higher education sector in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales gathering information from students who identify as D/deaf, deafened, hard of hearing, or deafblind.

The ‘Unmasking educational inequalities: the impact of Covid-19 on deaf students in higher education’ research project will also explore the impact the pandemic has had on the delivery of key services to deaf students, including access and inclusion services and learning and teaching delivery methods. The research is supported by NDCS, the National Deaf Children’s Society.

Dr Chijioke Obasi, Principal Investigator and Programme Leader in the School of Education and Social Sciences at UWS, said: “This research is an exciting opportunity to provide a thorough examination of the impact of the pandemic on deaf student experiences in higher education. Many of the Covid-19 restrictions, such as mask wearing, online learning and social distancing have had particularly severe impacts on deaf students.”

“It also examines universities’ responses to supporting deaf students, and how well they planned for potential access and inclusion issues. We hope that this research and the findings will encourage universities to take a proactive approach to deaf student inclusion, both as a key part of our post-Covid recovery, and also future provision in a changing higher education environment.”

Jim McKechnie, Head of Division in the School of Education and Social Sciences at UWS, added: “This project shines a spotlight on a much-neglected area of student experience research. The study will explore the impact of the pandemic on all areas of deaf students’ HE experiences, both in and out of the classroom.”

“Not only will the research gather valuable information about students’ current experiences, but it will also enable them to directly influence future higher education provision via best practice guidance.”