What does a Communication Support Worker do?
Communication support workers (CSWs) support deaf
learners in further and higher education. They assist
deaf learners to follow lectures and access the same
information and services as hearing learners.
The CSW works as part of a support team that
includes a teacher of the deaf (TOD), who assesses the
needs of each individual learner and then negotiates
with the mainstream teaching staff to plan the most
appropriate ways of communication support. The CSW
will then work under the direction of the teacher of the
deaf to carry out these plans. Working with the learner
in the classroom (or other learning environment), the
CSW could provide communication support using a range
of methods, such as:
- British Sign Language
(BSL)/English interpreting in lectures, tutorials and
- lipspeaking – silently repeating a
hearing person’s words using clear lip shapes, gestures
and facial expressions, as an aid to lipreading
- note-taking – CSWs can take handwritten or typed
notes for the learner to use later, allowing the learner to
give their full attention to the lecturer or BSL interpreter
during a class.
The methods used will depend
on the TOD's recommendations, and on the skills and
qualifications of the individual CSW.
CSWs may co-ordinate a communication support team
and carry out related administrative duties.
Communication support workers are mainly used in
England and Wales. Colleges and universities in
Scotland and Northern Ireland provide BSL/English
interpreting and notetaking services for their deaf
learners, but the formal CSW role is rare.
What's the working environment like working as a Communication Support Worker?
Many communication support workers work 25 to 30
hours a week during college or university term time,
typically 30 to 40 weeks a year. Part-time and sessional
work is common, especially since many deaf learners
may only attend college on a part-time basis.
They work in all situations where a learner could receive
academic or vocational tuition, such as classrooms,
lecture theatres or laboratories, or outdoors on farms,
building sites, and other real life working environments.
Some travel may be required between college sites so a
driving licence would be useful.
What does it take to become a Communication Support Worker?
To be a communication support worker you should:
- have excellent communication skills in English
(spoken and written) and BSL
- be flexible and
- be able to build good working
relationships with learners, tutors, lecturers and other
- be willing to carry out research,
for example, in order to familiarise yourself with
- have an awareness and
understanding of deaf culture and issues in the
education of deaf people
- be impartial, able to
respect learners’ confidentiality and be committed to
- be computer literate.
Communication Support Worker Career Opportunities
If you would like to know anything about Communication Support Worker that does not appear on Hotcourses, further information can be found below.Council for the Advancement of Communication with Deaf People
Durham University Science Park
Tel: 0191 383 1155
Textphone: 0191 383 7915
www.cacdp.org.uk National Association for the Tertiary Education of Deaf People
161 Mount Pleasant