One of the NDCS volunteer campaigners, Graham, talks about his experience of campaigning against cuts to services for deaf children.
I sometimes wonder what life would be like if my daughter, Ellie, wasn’t deaf. Her older brother is hearing and we haven’t needed to intervene to ensure he succeeds in his education and has access to the same opportunities as his friends.
This simply isn’t the case for many deaf children. My experience over the last 12 years has taught me that I cannot assume that help will be provided, even where there is clear, unequivocal evidence that this is necessary. We’ve been lucky to have support from some dedicated professionals, particularly a wonderful teacher of the deaf and access to really good speech therapy. Paradoxically, these are two of the areas which have proved most challenging.
Local Group Campaigning
Parents of deaf children can have a surprisingly loud voice, particularly for a cause which they are passionate about. Our deaf children’s society met with our council some years ago to make it clear we wanted the right support our children, particularly access to teachers of the deaf. It really shouldn’t have been necessary to go to the Local Government Ombudsman for a resolution but ultimately that’s what was needed to force the issue.
Ellie now attends a secondary school with a deaf centre in another London borough which is considering outsourcing much of its education services including the hearing impairment provision. Again, the local deaf children’s society and other groups have been very active in ensuring their voice is heard and their children do not miss out on support.
There are other ways for parents to get involved. I sit on a Children’s Hearing Services Working Group (CHSWG) and have just taken over the Chair of a second. They generally meet 3-4 times each year so it’s not time consuming but the benefits are enormous as parents can often provide valuable insight into practical issues that would otherwise not be recognised. National issues such as the current changes to law and guidance on disability affect our children so, like a lot of other parents, I made sure my MP understood how deaf children could be affected.
I’m acutely aware of the variable level of support available to deaf children and their families across the UK at a time of increasing pressure on councils struggling to deal with the impact of budgets cuts. It’s never been so important that parents make sure that ‘deaf kids matter’.
To find out what’s happening in your area and what NDCS is doing nationally you can join the NDCS Campaigns Network. You’ll be provided with easy to use resources to help you take action and get involved in campaigning against cuts to services for deaf children and young people.
You can follow Graham on twitter here.
You can follow NDCS here and join in the conversation using #StolenFutures