“We must all do whatever we can”

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

I recently interviewed Caroline and Anthony, members of our campaigns network and also parents to three children, Emily, Jack and Thomas. Thomas is ten months old and profoundly deaf. He also has a very rare condition called CHARGE syndrome which means he has additional needs. I spoke to Caroline and Anthony about why being a part of the campaigns network is important to them. 

 Why did you join the campaigns network? “We need to defend the services that are so vital to Thomas, our family and other deaf children. Thomas cannot tell people himself how much he needs, enjoys or how much he gets from the service so it is up to us to be his voice and to make sure that it is heard”. 

 What have you recently campaigned on? “We found out that Manchester City Council was planning to cut the Sensory Support Service for deaf children so, given how much we rely on this service, we knew we couldn’t stand by and let them do this without a fight.”

 Update: With the help of many parents and local campaigners, we managed to reduce the planned cuts in Manchester. We will now be working closely with the local authority to ensure deaf children in Manchester continue to get the right support.

 What kind of campaigning tactics did you use? “We responded to the council’s consultation and also wrote a letter to the council outlining how our whole family relies on the service. We also wrote to our local MP about the cuts and asked him to reject them on our behalf. He wrote to the council and supported us. Having your local MP on board really does make a difference.”

 What do you get from NDCS? “It is great that we can contact NDCS directly for advice or to answer any questions we have. They have travelled over to Manchester to meet with us and to gather feedback on how the changes affect us”.  

 Why should other people sign up to the network? “It is up to parents to stand up and fight for their children. We cannot allow our deaf children to be disadvantaged either now or in the future as cuts will affect children perpetually. We must all do whatever we can.” 

 Our campaigns network is made up of around 7,000 people who are passionate about campaigning to protect valuable services for deaf children and young people. The network is open to anyone and is completely free to join. Our campaigns network members take action on local and national levels to make sure services for deaf children are defended. Join the campaigns network today to be the first to find out about campaign actions in your area and to receive regular updates from the team:

http://e-activist.com/ea-action/action?ea.client.id=19&ea.campaign.id=45735&ea.tracking.id=TA

 

 

PIP’d Off Campaign Update – Justin Tomlinson meeting…

Jessica Reeves Campaigns Manager

Jessica Reeves, Campaigns Manager

Last week, after over 800 of our supporters wrote to him, we met with the Minister for Disabled People, Justin Tomlinson to talk about why people are so PIP’d Off with the Personal Independence Payments (PIP) process. NDCS Chief Executive, Susan Daniels and I met with Justin and representatives from the Department for Work and Pensions to explain how deaf young people are currently missing out on PIP.

We discussed the following issues, which you had raised with us:

YAB member Liam O'Dell meeting with Justin Tomlinson at party Conference

YAB member Liam O’Dell meeting with Justin Tomlinson at party Conference

  • Why so many deaf young people are missing out on PIP because the current guidance fails to recognise the support that many deaf young people require to communicate with their hearing peers
  • How face to face assessments are putting deaf young people at a disadvantage by placing them in unrealistic situations which do not take into account the difficulties that many deaf young people face in the real world, in noisey environments, trying to engage with non deaf aware people
  • The fact that deaf young people currently have to telephone to ask for an application form and how NDCS can help make sure that a digital claim process is available quickly and is accessible to young deaf claimants

The meeting was really productive and Justin was interested to hear about the issues that young deaf people are currently facing and he has said that he is keen to improve the system.

We will now be working with the Department of Work and Pensions to improve the current PIP guidance and improve deaf awareness at assessments.

I want to say a big thank you to all our supporters and Campaigns Network members without which this excellent result would not have been possible.

We will keep you posted!

5 things to watch out from the new Government

NDCS - Ian Noon, Head of Policy and Research

Ian Noon, Head of Policy and Research

So we have a majority Conservative government! Now the dust has settled on last week’s election results, we’ve looked into our crystal balls and picked out five things to watch out for from our new Government.

1) Education spending. In their manifesto, the Conservatives said they will protect funding for schools on a per pupil basis. This means that, if the number of pupils go up, schools shouldn’t lose out. But it also means that schools might get less money in real terms if inflation goes up. It also means that funding for early years education and post-16 is not protected. So what impact will this have on spending for specialist education services for deaf children? We know from the NDCS Stolen Futures campaign that local authorities have still been cutting services, despite the protection already in place over the past five years. Will that change?

2) Will Ofsted inspections make a difference? We know that Ofsted are planning to inspect local provision for children with special educational needs and that a consultation on how they will do that is due out later this year. What’s not yet certain is the extent to which Ofsted will take a proper, more focused look on how deaf children are doing as part of this. Will Ofsted, for example, inspect specialist education services for deaf children? Indications are that Ofsted are not keen to go into this level of detail. We may need to campaign to make sure they do. We may also need to campaign to make sure that inspections are carried out by inspectors with proper expertise in deafness.

3) Is Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for deaf children under threat? The Conservatives have indicated in the past they would like to look at reforms to DLA for disabled children, having already changed DLA for adults to a new benefit called Personal Independence Payments (PIP). The Conservatives have already pledged to reduce the welfare budget by £12bn, without specifying how they will do that.

4) Audiology services. How can we make sure that audiology services are delivering a good service? Our Listen Up! campaign has found that too many aren’t. Over the past 5 years, it was the government’s policy that audiology services should be accredited under a programme called IQIPs. Yet, to our knowledge, very few have to date. What will happen to those audiology services that don’t get accredited or don’t seek accreditation anytime soon? Will the new Government insist they be closed down or will they just allow poor audiology services to coast along? Will they improve transparency over which audiology services are seeking accreditation?

5) How will the Government halve the disability employment gap? This was one of their manifesto pledges. NDCS believes that many deaf young people will need support from Access to Work to make a successful transition into employment. However, we know that the Government are looking at ways to manage the Access to Work budget, with a new cap to be introduced later this year. Will this make it harder for the Government to support disabled people into employment?

Is there anything else we should be watching out for? Leave a comment below to let us know what you think.

The NDCS policy and campaigns team will be working to get answers to these questions. You can help us campaign for a world without barriers for every deaf child by joining our cool club, the NDCS campaigns network today.

Christmas fun! – CAMPAIGNS NETWORK SURVEY 2014/15

Arthur Thomas Campaigns Officer

Arthur Thomas Campaigns Officer

The NDCS Policy and Campaigns Team would like to say a big thank you to all the members of the Campaigns Network for all of the thousands of actions that they have taken throughout the year to remove the barriers that deaf children face.

Yesterday the team launched the Campaigns Network Survey! We want to hear what members of the Campaigns Network think of our campaigns activity; how you’ve been involved, how you’d like to get involved and what would improve the Network for you!

The survey is open to all members of the Campaigns Network and should take no more than 10 minutes to complete.

Team photo - Final 2Complete-the-survey-button-red

The survey closes on 12 January 2015 when we will then collate the results and, based on your feedback, make changes to tailor our campaigns activity to give you the best possible experience and ensure our campaigns have the maximum impact!

Those who complete the survey will also be put into a draw to win a £50 M&S voucher…not bad eh!?

 

The Campaigns Network

The NDCS Campaigns Network is open to anyone and provides it members with regular updates on how they can support NDCS campaigns. This includes social media, lobbying central government and supporting grassroots action. We also provide information on new campaigns, such as our Listen Up! audiology campaign, as well as updates on existing campaigns, such as Stolen Futures.

Campaigning doesn’t take a lot of time or experience and there are quick and easy ways to take part. The more people who get involved in our campaigns, the stronger our voice and the greater our impact!

If you are interested in joining the Campaigns Network and helping NDCS to campaign to remove the barriers that deaf children and young people face, then please click here.

If you have any questions, please contact the Campaigns team at: NDCS.Campaigns@ndcs.org.uk

Listen Up! campaign update. Email your health commissioner now!

Liz Partridge, Campaigns Manager

Liz Partridge, Campaigns Manager

Email your health commissioner now and ask them to tell you what they are doing to ensure your child’s audiology service is good quality!

A couple of months ago we launched our Listen Up! campaign in response to an NHS report that revealed that one-third of children’s audiology services failed deaf children. We called on you to take action and email your MP to ask them what they were going to do to help ensure that all deaf children receive a good quality audiology service.

I would like to say a massive thank you to the many of you that took action. As a result of your action we secured a meeting with the Health Minister Dr Daniel Poulter and he has agreed to investigate further.

However our work is not done! It is important we continue to take action because we know that one-third of children’s audiology services failed deaf children and despite this the Government stopped inspecting these services. This means we have a very little idea of how children’s audiology services are doing now, leaving many families in the dark about how good or bad their child’s audiology service is.

Listen Up! campaign logo

So we need to keep the momentum going – please take action now and email your local health commissioner to find out more about the quality of your child’s audiology service.

You can also find out more about the campaign and don’t forget you can join our Campaigns Network to be kept regularly up-to-date!

Further updates will be coming your way soon so please keep an eye out and continue to take action to ensure all deaf children and young people receive a good quality audiology service.

Thank you.

How well are deaf children doing in primary schools in England?

Brian Gale, Director of Policy and Campaigns

Brian Gale, Director of Policy and Campaigns

This blog looks at the Government’s data on the attainment of pupils in primary schools where a “hearing impairment” is their main type of special education need (SEN) and where they have either a statement of SEN or receive additional specialist support.

It is important to note that children are very dependent on their hearing to learn. Having a hearing loss therefore presents significant learning challenges to the child and those who teach and support their education.

However, early identification of a hearing loss, good levels of support from parents and professionals and effective use of hearing technology can reduce the disadvantages. Indeed recently we have seen a significant improvement in the attainment of deaf children.

Attainment in the final year of primary school (Year 6)

The table below shows the attainment of deaf children in the Standard Assessment Tests. It shows the percentage of pupils attaining Level 4 (referred to as expected levels) in reading, writing and maths. The good news is that the proportion of deaf children achieving Level 4 in all three subjects has improved significantly over the 2 years. Thus, although there is still a gap in attainment with other children that needs to be closed, there are signs that it is narrowing.

Proportion of children achieving expected level in reading, writing and mathematics

Year Deaf children All children
2013 49% 75%
2012 44% 74%
2011 36% 67%

The next table looks at attainment levels in reading, writing and spelling, punctuation and grammar. It shows an improvement in attainment. However, there remains a significant gap with other pupils. The table also illustrates the need to pay particular attention to teaching deaf children spelling, punctuation and grammar and developing their writing skills.

Proportion of children attaining expect level in reading, writing and spelling, grammar and punctuation (SPAG)

  Deaf children All children
Year Reading Writing SPAG Reading Writing SPAG
2013 65% 58% 49% 86% 83% 74%
2012 62% 52% NA 87% 81% NA

 There are also improvements in the performance of deaf children in maths and the attainment gap with all children is gradually closing.

Proportion of children achieving expected level for mathematics

Year Deaf children All children
2013 66% 85%
2012 57% 84%

 What should parents do if they are worried about their deaf child’s progress or attainment levels in primary school?

 It is important to remember that like hearing children, deaf children cover the full range of skills and abilities. Also remember your child’s hearing loss could delay your child’s development in a number of key areas. While it is important to have high expectations it is important to recognise that your child may still be making good progress even if they have not reached the expected levels. In some cases children may just fall short of reaching expected levels and will catch up with limited support. Others may require far greater levels of support to make good progress in particular areas of learning.

The school should be paying particular attention to your child’s progress and “take action to remove barriers to learning and put effective special education provision is in place”. If your child is not making good progress despite the school’s best endeavours you can make a request for a statutory assessment of your child’s needs and an Education Health and Care Plan. If you child is moving to secondary school it will be important for the new school to know about any issues so that plans can be put in place to provide support for the start of the school year.

Professionals who know your child such as school teachers and your child’s Teacher of the Deaf should be able to offer good advice. However, if parents remain worried and feel their child is not receiving the support to enable them to make good progress, then NDCS is able to offer support and advice. This can be obtained by contacting the NDCS helpline.

NDCS campaigns to ensure every deaf child is able to succeed, for more information and to get involved join our campaigns network.

19 things I’ve learnt from working at NDCS

Jonathan Barnes - NDCS, articles we’ve been reading this week

Jonathan Barnes, Campaigns Assistant

This is my final week at NDCS. I’m leaving to move to the US and lots of exciting new opportunities there. I thought this would be a good opportunity to reflect back on my time working for the best deaf children’s charity out there!

1)    Readers of this blog love listicles! Two of our most popular blog posts are this one and this one. So I thought I’d try and replicate that. If you want to have a go, send your ideas to campaigns@ndcs.org.uk

2)    Lots of facts on deafness – here’s 11 to get you started

3)    We have some great parent campaigners

1

4) The Policy and Campaigns Team rocks at winning internal competitions – from best at fancy dress, to best Christmas decorations and quiz winners, we are undoubtedly the best team!

Trophy

5)   By working together, we can make a difference – I’m particularly proud of getting a commitment from Birmingham Council to protect services for deaf children in 2014/15. We have to keep working to make sure they keep their commitment.

6)    Eating bacon every Friday morning (known in the office, unimaginatively, as Bacon Friday) isn’t particularly healthy…but it is tasty!2

7)    Having Regional Directors in every region of England makes NDCS much more able to challenge cuts at a local level with better knowledge of the area.

8)     I’m a pioneer

9)    No language is as fun to learn as BSL…Layout 1

10)   …And no language is more fun to sing in than sign language!

11)    Parents sharing their stories makes a difference. Last year, thousands of parents shared their story with their MPs to help us secure a debate in parliament.

r_seaman@hotmail.com

12)   Softball. NDCS staff play in the second largest softball league in the UK, the London Charity Softball League. We even reached the final a couple of years ago!Softball

13)   Freedom of Information requests are a great way of finding out what is happening across the country to services for deaf children.

14)   NDCS works internationally – not just in the UK!NDCS Campaigns Blog - DCW Ecuador Exchange

15)   Some great deaf awareness tips from working around deaf staffsuperkids-template (2)

16)   International Lumberjack Day exists.8

17)   NDCS works with thousands of families each year, addressing all levels of deafness

18)   80% of children have experienced glue ear by the age of 10. That’s four in every five children.Jonathan aged two

19)   The staff and volunteers at NDCS all work really hard to make the world that little bit better for deaf children – please continue to support them!