Right to Sign Campaign

Sophia-James-cropped

Sophia James, Senior Participation Officer (Campaigns) National Deaf Children’s Society

After a lively debate at a residential event in 2015, a group of 16 deaf young people voted to campaign about British Sign Language. Now, 18 months later, following our charity’s largest ever consultation of young people, their campaign for a British Sign Language (BSL) GCSE and Scottish National 4/5 in schools has finally launched.

Our board are campaigning for the Right to Sign and we want you to give your support to this campaign. To explain what the campaign is about, Beth and Aliko have filmed this video.

There are lots of reasons to get behind this campaign and Frankie, from the YAB, explains in her vlog why she thinks it’s a good idea for young people to have access to learning sign language.

Here’s how you can get involved:

Read our report

Sign our petition

There is also a different action for each country in the UK, which you can find here.

So thanks for your support and let’s make the #righttosign a reality in schools.

Putting a stop to Bullying

NDCS - Ian Noon, Head of Policy and Research

Ian Noon, Head of Policy and Research

This blog post was originally published on The Huffington Post.

School can be tough at times for all children, but for many deaf children and young people it can be particularly hard. On top of the same challenges that everyone faces, such as meeting homework deadlines and working out if that girl or guy fancies you, many deaf children and young people also have to contend with having to work that bit harder to follow and understand what their teacher is saying and keep up with what their mates are chatting about.

Sadly, for some, the risk of bullying can make life at school extra difficult. Research has shown that deaf students are often more vulnerable to bullying than other children. Nearly two thirds of deaf young people reported having been bullied because of their deafness, through an online poll* on the National Deaf Children’s Society’s website for deaf young people – The Buzz.

Sharing a joke with classmates or joining in the break time banter might be taken for granted by hearing people. But it’s thought that the risk of ‘breakdowns’ in social communication, or looking ‘different’ because a child is wearing hearing aids or cochlear implants, can end up marking out deaf children and young people as ‘different’ and hence more vulnerable. Elsewhere, social media offers a great opportunity to overcome communication barriers but comes with its dark side of potentially exposing deaf children and young people to cyberbullying.

I grew up deaf and went to a mainstream school in a small village in Leicestershire. Fortunately I feel very lucky never to have had any major problems with bullying. I could be happy about this but it’s always struck me as unfair – whether a deaf child enjoys school and avoids bullying should not be down to luck.

Everyone – teachers, school staff and parents can help reduce the risk of bullying. The National Deaf Children’s Society has produced a pack of resources to support all those with a responsibility for ensuring the well-being of deaf students, including deaf young people themselves.

Bullying resource for young people

The resources explain why deaf children might be more at risk from bullying and the simple things that everyone can do to prevent this from happening. For example, my school had lots of deaf awareness training and I was surrounded by a good bunch of friends who understood that I liked being able to chat at lunchtime in a quiet area.

I also had lots of opportunities to develop my speech and language skills and access to some great equipment in the classroom (known as radio aids) which amplified everything and meant that I could usually follow what was going on. I also had lots of work done on my language and communication skills. I like to think also that my parents imbued me with a sense of confidence and assertiveness to ‘own’ my deafness and to stand up for myself if there were ever any problems.

That’s not to say I never had any problems at all. I remember one time that some kids would keep “whispering” to me or covering their mouths when they spoke, knowing that I wouldn’t understand. Fortunately too, my teachers spotted this happening and clamped down on it immediately.

It’s important that everyone is vigilant to the signs that a child might be being bullied, just as some of my teachers were. Many of the signs are the same for deaf children as for all children – such as disruptive behaviour, not wanting to go to school and changes in appearance, for example. But where deaf children and young people are involved, there can be some added considerations. One of the key signs that any child is being bullied is that they become withdrawn and uncommunicative. Unfortunately, there is sometimes a failure to pick up bullying in deaf children because this kind of behaviour is sometimes attributed to their being deaf, rather than as a warning sign of wider problems.

The National Deaf Children’s Society’s new resources include a set of creative colourful postcards that deaf young people can pick up to quickly remind themselves of what they should or shouldn’t do in a difficult situation. Empowering deaf children and young people is absolutely essential. Deaf children and young people may need some help to understand what cyberbullying is and to know what to do if it crops up. We can’t always be there to protect them, but we can give them the tools and confidence to protect themselves.

By taking a few simple steps, we can all minimise the risk of bullying and make sure that deaf children and young people have happy memories and experiences at school and leave as confident adults.

More information on the National Deaf Children’s Society’s resources to prevent and tackle bullying, can be found here.

*The National Deaf Children’s Society commissioned a poll in 2012 on its young people’s website The Buzz, asking deaf young people their views on bullying. The poll received more than 600 respondents.

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

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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!

What does the reshuffle mean for deaf children?

Jonathan Barnes

Jonathan Barnes, Campaigns Assistant

With Jeremy Hunt remaining as Health Secretary, the headline-grabbing Cabinet move announced yesterday for deaf children was in Education. Michael Gove, the Secretary of State, was replaced by Nicky Morgan. The big question is what this might mean for deaf children?

We are unaware of any personal connection that Morgan has to deafness, whereas Gove had a deaf adoptive sister growing up and a mother who was a Teacher of the Deaf. This meant that Gove always had some interest and familiarity in the issue of childhood deafness. Morgan has previously asked questions of ministers on deaf issues, but otherwise there is a question mark over her familiarity with deafness.

Michael Gove at an NDCS event in 2008

Michael Gove at an NDCS parliamentary event in 2008

What can we expect from the Department for Education moving forward? There will be a continued focus on SEN reform. There are positive intentions here, but will it lead to better outcomes for deaf children? We are concerned it won’t unless there is a proper focus on accountability within the system.

We can’t ignore also the impact of cuts. Through our Stolen Futures campaign, we have interacted frequently with local government. Too often, cuts to services are happening at a local level. The Department for Education have said that they have protected the budget, but it’s clear that this hasn’t been backed up by action.

Over the past few years, we have seen a trend of improving attainment for deaf children and young people. With 43% of deaf children achieving five good GCSEs compared to 70% of children with no identified special education needs, there is still a lot that needs to be done. Action is still needed from the government. Let’s hope Nicky Morgan can deliver.

BBC Subtitle Fail

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

Jonathan Barnes, Campaigns Assistant

Buzzfeed and Metro have printed about the latest in a long line of subtitle errors, after the BBC mistakenly used the word ‘rape’ instead of rain during its weather forecast earlier this week. This wasn’t some sick joke, but a technological error.

The articles cover a number of similar past mistakes. Whilst sometimes these typos can be amusing, there is a serious issue too: deaf people rely on subtitling technology to receive information.

Weather

With live programmes, such as the weather forecast, we know it is difficult and errors occur. Nobody really thought that the weatherman was talking about rape at Glastonbury, after all. But more can and should be done when it comes to programmes that are filmed well in advance. Ian Noon, Head of Policy and Research at NDCS, has blogged more about this on Limping Chicken.

This is a frequent problem and one that creates yet another barrier for deaf people. Ofcom has started to look into this, but broadcasters must take responsibility for ensuring their work accessible to all.

10 things GPs in Wales should do for deaf patients

Elin

Elin Wyn, Policy and Campaigns Officer for Wales

Did you know that deaf people in Wales have certain rights when they go to see their doctor?

The NHS in Wales has published a set of Standards on Accessible Communication and Information for People with Sensory Loss. These standards tell GPs and hospitals what they should be doing to make sure deaf people hear and understand everything they need to know about their healthcare needs. This should make it easier for deaf young people to become more independent when they visit the GP. And to make life easier for you here are 10 things GPs in Wales SHOULD be doing to help deaf patients:

1)   Asking patients what communication needs they have.

2)   Setting up a flagging system to record that information on the patient’s paper or computer record.

3)   Checking that the environment encourages effective communication – e.g. checking lighting and background noise

4)   If a patient is referred from the GP to a hospital the GP should also transfer information about their communication needs.

5)   Patients should be able to make appointments in different ways e.g. by email, texting, textphones and websites.

6)   The GP reception and consulting rooms should be fitted with a hearing loop and staff should know how to check they are working.

7)   Reception staff should have arrangements in place to make sure deaf people don’t miss their appointment.

8)   Every patient who needs communication support should have it – and it’s the GP practice that should arrange this and that pays for this support.

9)   All staff should be trained in how to communicate effectively with deaf people

10)   The GP practice should promote the different forms of communication that are available to deaf patients.

These standards are a part of your rights as a deaf young person in Wales. If your GP doesn’t do these things you can complain to the Local Health Board that your GP practice is not sticking to the Standards on Accessible Communication.

For advice for deaf young people on visiting the GP independently have a look at our “My life my health” resources.

It’s Deaf Awareness Week – what can you do?

NDCS, Sam Aldridge

Sam Aldridge, Campaigns Assistant

This week we’re celebrating Deaf Awareness Week – 19th-25th May

Whether you have a few minutes or an hour there are lots of ways to get involved with Deaf Awareness Week. Have a look at a few of our suggestions below:

Read and share our 11 tips for communicating with a deaf child as a quick guide to general deaf awareness