Your chance to take part in academic research about welfare benefits

Sally Etchells, Policy and Campaigns Officer, National Deaf Children’s Society

Do you receive Personal Independence Payment, Employment Support Allowance or Universal Credit benefits? Are you over the age of 18? If yes, researchers from the University of East Anglia and the University of Glasgow want to hear from you.

They’re interviewing people to find out about experiences of claiming new welfare benefits. Participants will receive a £20 voucher and communication support needs will be met. For more information about the research project and how to take part, please contact the lead researcher Tom Porter:

If you have any questions about disability benefits please get in touch with our campaigns team:

Good audiology services are like snow…

Beccy Forrow, Policy and Campaigns Adviser, National Deaf Children’s Society

Over the last six months there has been a flurry of children’s audiology services recognised for their quality. The IQIPS accreditation scheme inspects services and decides whether they meet set standards. This is great news for deaf children using the newly accredited services in Nottingham, Plymouth, Sussex and Bolton. But, like the recent snow, they aren’t evenly spread across the country.

Every audiology service in Devon and Cornwall has now been inspected and judged as good quality – an incredible result! However, this does highlight a stark contrast with other regions that have few or no accredited services. The North East is the only region in England to have no accredited services.

We want families of deaf children across the country to be confident that their local service provides good quality support. But, despite the recent flurry of accreditations, fewer than 1 in 5 services are accredited. The scheme has been open to audiology services for the last six years, yet in that time fewer than 20% of services have been independently inspected.

We would like to see the government and NHS England support our calls for the inspection and accreditation process to be mandatory. Without this, an even spread of high quality audiology services across England seems unlikely and many families of deaf children will be left in the dark about their local service.


Seven things we’ve learnt from the latest CRIDE report

Ian Noon, Head of Policy and Research, National Deaf Children’s Society

Last week, the Consortium for Research into Deaf Education (CRIDE) published the latest results for England from its annual survey of education services for deaf children. Though it has its limitations, it’s one of the best sources of data out there on deaf children and the report managed to attract a fair bit of media coverage (including in the Huffington Post and the Guardian). In this blog, I set out my own personal take on seven key findings from the report

1. There are more deaf children

Or, at least, there are more deaf children that local authorities know about. There are now at least 45,631 deaf children in England, a reported 11% increase over the previous year. It’s difficult to be sure whether this is because there are genuinely more deaf children and/or whether local authorities are getting better at identifying those that live in their area.

2. There are fewer Teachers of the Deaf

In 2017, we saw a 2% decline in the number of qualified Teachers of the Deaf in England. Since 2011, we’ve seen a whopping 14% decline. These figures don’t take into account the number of trainee Teachers of the Deaf or Teachers of the Deaf in special schools – but it’s still clear there has been a significant long-term decline. Despite this, government action to address this has not been forthcoming.

3. There’s a looming retirement crunch

Over half of all visiting Teachers of the Deaf are over the age of 50, meaning they’re likely to retire in the next ten to fifteen years. Combined with the long-term decline in numbers of Teachers of the Deaf, this could have a disastrous effect on deaf children, unless urgent action is taken by the Government.

4. Deaf children continue to be a diverse bunch

We know, for example, that 7% of deaf children have at least one cochlear implant, 14% use English as an additional spoken language at home while 22% have an additional special educational need. There can be a huge variety of need within deaf children which has important implications for Teacher of the Deaf training.

5. We still have an incomplete picture on post-16

It’s clear that local authorities continue to struggle in identifying deaf young people post-16, despite the introduction of a new 0 to 25 special educational needs framework in 2014 in England. For example, local authorities told us that 1,356 deaf young people left school in 2016. This is far less than we’d expect, based on what we know about the number of secondary aged pupils.

6. We know a bit more about the use of sign language in education

We already knew, from previous CRIDE surveys, that around 10% of all deaf children used sign language in education in some form. For the first time, instead of asking about all children, CRIDE asked about those who are severely or profoundly deaf. This revealed that, of this group, 29% use sign language in education, of which 8% use British Sign Language. It’s important to note that this doesn’t tell us about how much sign language is being used outside of school.

7. Government statistics on deaf children are still flawed

We know from CRIDE that there are over 45,000 deaf children across England. However, if we were to look at government figures, we’d be missing a large chunk of this group, around 42% of all deaf children. We’re calling on the Government to get better at collecting data on all deaf children.

There are still more stats yet to come – expect reports on deaf children in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales in the next month.

Shouldn’t all young deaf children and their families have the right to a Radio Aid?


Emma Fraser- Teacher of the Deaf

Everyday life can be busy and noisy with family gatherings, trips out to playgrounds and activity centres and frequent journeys in the car and the buggy. Having two children myself I know how loud we all can be particularly when my six siblings and their children come round. In fact recent research indicates that young children can spend up to 25% of their day in noisy environments. So knowing what we know about how important it is for young children to hear spoken language in order to develop good communication and language and how babies have to learn how to be good listeners, why can’t all deaf pre-school children be considered for a radio aid at the same time as they are fitted for a hearing aid? 

We think every family should have the right to try a radio aid, from an early age, so they can see if it would work well for them. Our research shows that it can have big benefits. If you would like to try one, you can talk to your audiologist and Teacher of the Deaf about radio aids. As soon as your child has hearing aids or a cochlear implant, discuss options with your Teacher of the Deaf about trying out a radio aid at home. It may take some getting used to and you don’t need to use it all the time, but when you think about the times your child is in a noisy place or behind you in the car, it will be then that your child could really benefit from hearing your voice clearly.

So here are some things you may want to consider when using a radio aid with a baby or toddler.

  • Think about the best time to use the radio aid for you and your child, it may be in the car, when you are sharing a book with a sibling, or playing with your child at toddler group. Take a look at this short video to see how a family used a radio aid to help communication.
  • All the family can use the radio aid, so pass it around when another family member is interacting with your child
  • Radio aids use up battery power so you will need to change the batteries in your child’s hearing aids more frequently
  • Place the microphone carefully. About 15cm from your mouth is best and avoid wearing anything that will knock against it as the sound will travel straight into your child’s ears.
  • Don’t forget to use the mute button, there are some conversations your child doesn’t need to hear.

Unfortunately, radio aids are not always available for use in the home or for pre-school deaf children. We’re campaigning for them to be more widely available – local authorities will need to ensure that services have the resources to fund, maintain and monitor the equipment.

Remember the best communication happens in a quiet environment, when you are close to you child, they can see your face and you are sharing experiences, but when this isn’t possible consider trying a radio aid. If you’d like more information about radio aids, take a look at our website.


Merry Christmas Everybody


Jake Oakes – Policy and Campaigns Assistant 

 I am currently sat on a train back home, up north to the family. I’ve realised that the thing I am most looking forward to is the food: the Christmas dinner, Granny’s mince pies, and of course; PIGS IN BLANKETS! Ahem sorry… I clearly meant seeing the family…

Whilst, I make my way home listening to ‘Wham’s Last Christmas’. I also reflect on the thousands of deaf children and young people making their way to their own Christmases and their own  traditions.


As everyone’s Christmases are different, I am sure there will be some common themes; that tense moment when someone brings up politics, the dreaded monopoly game and of course, for deaf people, the awkward deaf awareness lesson you give to your family.


Don’t you worry, we have some fantastic tips to avoid such frustrations for deaf family members. Together, we can make Christmas accessible for everyone this year. My top three tips would be:

  • Watching Christmas movies? Turn the subtitles on!
  • Play games – give deaf children a break from conversations (Lip-reading is super tiring!)
  • Over Christmas dinner, Speak one at a time (please!)

For more tips, check out our website.

Finally, we all from the campaigns team, wish you all a wonderful Christmas and a happy new year!

Getting the right advice


Martin McLean, Education and Training Policy Advisor (Post-14), National Deaf Children’s Society

When I was a boy what I wanted to be when I was older changed regularly – I wanted to be a teacher, then a weather man and then a journalist and then it was a solicitor. As I grew older and had to seriously consider my options at GCSE followed by A-levels, the doubts crept in – would these jobs be suitable for me? Would the communication barrier be too great? ‘Focus on what you are good at’ I was told and I settled on the biological sciences in the end, following in my parents’ footsteps. Working in laboratory should be ok for a deaf person – there will be opportunities there, I thought to myself.

I was right – there were opportunities. After graduating in Genetics, I worked in a lab for a few months but I soon realised that this type of work was not for me. It was not because I was deaf – I know a few deaf scientists and they love their work. I just felt I had not followed my passions and had settled for the safe option.

It was in 1995 that I took my GCSEs and it was only in that year that disability discrimination laws were introduced. Access to Work, a Government scheme which can cover the costs of communication support in employment, was launched at the same time. I did not know anything about Access to Work or about my rights in employment until much later but I wish I had. I might then have had the courage to follow my passions. This is why I believe good careers advice does matter. Sadly, our research tells us too many young people are not getting this.

Last week, the Government launched a careers strategy which aims to make sure young people receive better careers advice in schools and colleges in England. Refreshingly, for a Government policy document, the needs of young people with disabilities were considered at several points within the strategy. The highlights in relation to deaf young people are:

  • Schools and colleges will be expected to use the Gatsby Benchmarks to improve careers provision. One these benchmarks is ‘addressing the needs of each pupil’ – particularly important for deaf young people.
  • Every school or college will have a Careers Leader who will be expected to prioritise careers support for ‘disadvantaged’ young people including young people with disabilities.
  • 20 Careers Hubs will be set up across England that will be focused on groups of young people ‘most in need of targeted support.’
  • The Careers and Enterprise Company and the Gatsby Foundation will work together to set out good practice in supporting young people with disabilities.

The strategy has the potential to make a difference. Unfortunately, it is not backed by much in the way of extra funding which may limit the ability of the new Careers Hubs and Careers Leaders to reach out to significant numbers of young people. Still, it is better than nothing.

The Careers Strategy only applies to England. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have their own careers policies and we know there are issues in those countries too. Wherever, you live we expect deaf young people to be getting tailored advice.

If you live or work with deaf young people, you too can play your part. Our website has videos aimed at young people thinking about their futures that you can signpost to. We are also looking at how we can further develop our resources around careers so watch this space! If you have any views about what we could produce – let us know in the comment boxes below.

PS – I did leave the laboratory by the way. 15 years, several roles and two more university degrees later, here I am as an Education and Training Policy Advisor for the National Deaf Children’s Society, a job I much enjoy!

Important update to PIP for deaf young people

Sally Etchells, Policy and Campaigns Officer, National Deaf Children’s Society

An updated guide for Personal Independence Payment (PIP) assessors has now been published by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). The new guide contains two major changes that came about after Tribunal cases we worked on. We are hoping this will result in better quality PIP assessments and decisions for deaf young people. 

Firstly, the severity of harm caused by potential risks will now be taken into account, even if the risk is unlikely. This means that even if the potential risk of harm being caused is low, if this harm would be severe, PIP assessors must consider this. This case law is explained in more depth in my previous blog here.

Secondly, the PIP system is based on a claimant scoring points under certain daily activities. If they score enough points, they will get the PIP benefit. It’s now been made explicitly clear that assessors can award PIP points for ’engaging face to face’, as well as ‘communicating verbally’. Other parts of the guide have also been strengthened, to make it clear that even if you have hearing aids or cochlear implants, you can still score points if you need communication support.

We still think further improvements need to be made to the guide, to improve it for deaf people. We will be raising this with the DWP, and will keep you updated.

What now?

The DWP has said they will be looking into the payments that existing claimants receive and whether they should receive more money. They have said they will contact these people. However, at this point it is not clear how the DWP will identify these claimants.

What if I’ve been refused PIP in the past?

There is nothing stopping you from applying for PIP again.

If you are 16-25 and want advice with the PIP process, get in touch with us at If you are over 25 please get in touch with a local welfare rights agency such as the Citizens Advice Bureau.