Career pathways for professionals supporting deaf and hard of hearing students in schools

Career pathways for professionals interested in supporting deaf and hard of hearing students in schools include specialist roles as Teachers of the Deaf (TODs), Education Support staff (including Educational Interpreters) and allied health professionals such as Speech and Language Therapists and Educational Audiologists.

The impact of deafness on language, communication and learning has far-reaching implications for the educational outcomes of deaf and hard of hearing students. Language levels and general academic performance are more likely to be delayed due to reduced language input and these delays require a wide range of supports from specialist teachers, support staff and allied professionals.  In addition to the specialised knowledge and skills of Teachers of the Deaf, support from Education Support staff and Allied Professionals is essential if the educational potential of deaf and hard of hearing students is to be achieved.

Educational Support staff and Allied Health professionals such as Speech and Language Therapists, Educational Interpreters, and Educational Audiologists provide specialised programs, assessments, therapies and interventions that enhance and compliment the work of the Teacher of the Deaf.

Teacher of the Deaf (TOD)

Teachers of the Deaf (TODs) play a vital role in the education and support of deaf and hard of hearing students. As qualified teachers with an additional Master's level qualification in Special Education and/or deafness studies, TODs apply their specialised skills to ensure that deaf and hard of hearing students are provided with optimal access to learning in their classroom environments.

The Teacher of the Deaf role requires in-depth knowledge of the school curriculum and an understanding of strategies for differentiating teaching that meet the specific learning needs of deaf students across their full range of abilities.

In Victoria, Teachers of the Deaf are employed in Schools for the Deaf, Deaf Facilities and as Visiting Teachers. In these settings, these highly specialised teachers provide essential supports, including:

  • Testing and monitoring assistive listening devices
  • Assessing and monitoring functional hearing levels
  • Interpreting audiograms and other audiological data and reports
  • Monitoring the acoustic environment in the classroom/school
  • Assessing communication and language
  • Incorporating teaching strategies that address the literacy challenges experienced by many deaf and hard of hearing students
  • Interpreting assessment data to evaluate student learning and modify teaching practice
  • Monitoring and supporting the social, emotional and wellbeing of deaf and hard of hearing students in their educational setting
  • Collaborating with colleagues and allied professionals to share knowledge and expertise in areas such as assessments, IEPs and professional learning

Qualifying as a Teacher of the Deaf in Victoria

Teachers of the Deaf are first required to qualify as a teacher, which requires an undergraduate qualification at a University endorsed by the Victorian Institute of Teaching. 

 An additional Master's degree is required to qualify as a Teacher of the Deaf. Currently, three Universities are offering accredited courses approved by the Victorian Department of Education and the Victorian Institute of Teaching.

  • Master of Disability Studies, NextSense Institute/ Macquarie University (Deaf Hard of Hearing Specialisation)
  • Master of Learning Intervention (Hearing Impairment Specialty), University of Melbourne
  • Master of Special and Inclusive Education (Deaf Studies and Deaf Education), University of Newcastle

The National Association of Australian Teachers of the Deaf (NAATD) recognises the above three courses for full membership via state branches.

The Australian Association of Teachers of the Deaf (AATD) is the Victorian branch

The Master of Inclusive Education program

The Master of Inclusive Education program has been established by the Department to increase the number of qualified practitioners specialising in various aspects of inclusive education. Teachers interested in qualifying as a Teacher of the Deaf may be eligible to apply for a fully paid scholarship to complete one of the Master's degrees listed above.

The current application round 10 is open until 17th March 2024. Please refer to the Master of Inclusive Education program webpage to find out more. For further enquiries, contact the Inclusive Education Scholarships Unit (IESU) by phone: 03 9084 8496 or by email:

Applicants can also access on-demand course webinars on the IESU's Arc page.


Allied Health (Student Support Services)

The Student Support Services (SSS) support schools to address the barriers that impact student access, participation, and progress to achieving their educational goals and developmental potential. SSS services include capability building, consultation, group-based and individual support, specialised services and collaboration with schools on primary prevention and early intervention activities.

Services are provided as part of multidisciplinary teams with health and wellbeing professionals, and other Department specialist services.

Education Support

Education support (ES) staff are an integral part of a student's education team, working alongside the classroom teacher to ensure the learning needs of students are met. ES staff provide students with personalised support, enabling access to the curriculum and learning environments across various learning levels and subject areas.

Educational Interpreter

Educational Interpreters are specialist Education Support (ES) staff who provide language and communication access in Auslan (Australian Sign Language) and English to support deaf and hard of hearing students in their learning environments. Auslan is a recognised community language and the primary language for many deaf people.

The key role of Educational Interpreters

Educational Interpreters are integral to providing deaf and hard of hearing students with meaningful access to the curriculum and enrich their educational environments. The educational interpreter's role is to meet the language and communication access needs of each student, align their practice with the goals in the Individual Education Plan (IEP), be a consistent and fluent language model, and work in partnership with the classroom teacher and education team.

Opportunities for deaf and hard of hearing students to gain a quality education are enhanced when the classroom teacher and educational interpreter are both highly skilled and able to jointly identify and implement appropriate adjustments for classroom communication and participation. With this crucial support in place, deaf students have the greatest chance of academic and social success.

The Victorian Deaf Education Institute (VDEI) plays a critical role in supporting the educational interpreter workforce. This is achieved by:

  • Development of the Professional Standards for Educational Interpreters
  • Support for interpreters and schools in how to implement the standards
  • Guidelines and documentation to guide the implementation of the standards
  • Provision of professional learning designed for interpreters
  • Support for a community of practice and mentoring
  • Advice and support to schools on recruitment of Educational Interpreters

More Information about Educational Interpreters can be found here:

Speech and Language Therapist 

Speech and Language Therapists gain qualifications at accredited universities and work in a range of education and health sectors including playgroups, kindergartens, schools, universities, nursing homes, hospitals and community health centres.

In educational settings, Speech and Language Therapists are focused on maximising deaf and hard of hearing students' communication skills, including:

  • pragmatics – using and understanding language in social situations
  • verbal skills – understanding and using spoken language intelligibly
  • non-verbal skills – communicating using signs and gestures, body language, turn-taking
  • expressive and receptive language skills in spoken language or Auslan

Some therapists may also be able to communicate in Auslan, a bonus when working in the deaf education field.

Speech and Language Therapists collaborate with Teachers of the Deaf, Educational Audiologists and other professionals to support language-based aspects of the curriculum and to ensure that intervention strategies are targeted to achieve the best outcomes. In addition, a Speech and Language therapist assesses language and communication development and identifies areas for improvement.

Educational Audiologist

An Educational Audiologist is a qualified Clinical Audiologist who has knowledge and understanding of aspects of deaf education that impact on the learning and development of deaf and hard of hearing students:

  • Language development
  • Speech discrimination and perception
  • Development of auditory processing skills
  • Speech and room acoustics
  • Listening in different settings
  • Assistive listening devices, including hearing aids, cochlear implants, wireless technology and soundfield systems


Educational Audiologists understand the role amplification, acoustics, assistive listening devices and speech discrimination play in the speech, language and communication development. These specialised audiologists work closely with Teachers of the Deaf to maximise the audiological and educational outcomes for deaf and hard of hearing children and young people from birth to 26 years.

Information about becoming an audiologist can be found here



Learning Auslan

Auslan Courses are now included in Victoria's Free TAFE program. Melbourne Polytechnic is the sole provider of these professionally recognised Auslan accreditation courses in Victoria, and their course pathways provide the necessary prerequisites to Auslan interpreter training.

Anyone is eligible to enrol into the Diploma of Auslan and can access the Free TAFE funding regardless of previous qualifications.

Melbourne Polytechnic has a range of courses available to teach effective communication with Deaf and hard of hearing children and adults. These courses cater to a diverse range of students, including adults aspiring to work as Auslan interpreters or Auslan teachers, families parents of Deaf and hard of hearing children, and colleagues of Deaf and hard of hearing people who want to provide an inclusive environment or workplace.

All TAFE students are required to undertake a Literacy and Numeracy assessment prior to enrolment to determine suitability and to ensure they have the Literacy level needed to successfully complete the course.

Information about the Free TAFE Initiative can be located on the Vic Gov website. and Melbourne Polytechnic's website:

 Non-accredited courses in Auslan can be found at

Teaching Auslan in schools

All Victorian schools are required by legislation and as a condition of their registration with the Victorian Registration and Qualifications Authority to provide instruction in an accredited language.

Victoria has led the way on a national level in developing Auslan as part of the school curriculum, having developed an Auslan curriculum for the Victorian Certificate of Education (VCE) level in 1994. Over 20 languages are currently taught in mainstream Victorian government primary and secondary schools, with Auslan studied by more than 35,000 students in over 250 schools.

Typically, languages in Victorian schools are taught as a separate subject by a qualified teacher who is also qualified to teach the language; the programs focus on the teaching and learning of the target language and understanding the connections between language and culture. In the case of Auslan, due to the scarcity of language teachers who are fluent in Auslan, schools may consider employing an Auslan-fluent Deaf person who team-teaches with the class teacher.

For more information about teaching Auslan in schools, see Languages | and Auslan - Learning in Auslan - Victorian Curriculum (

 Current Opportunities in Deaf education (Victoria)

There are several websites advertising current employment opportunities in the Victorian public sector and in Victorian government schools.


Careers Victoria - Official website to search for and apply for
Public Sector roles
Careers Victoria - Disability employment
Jobs in Victorian Government schools (Recruitment Online).
Jobs and Skills Exchange (Victorian Public Service login or 
DET login required)

Other useful websites