5 Ways A Radio Aid Can Help A Deaf Toddler

Alison Taylor, Senior Information Editor, National Deaf Children’s Society

Compelling evidence shows (see the research) that giving deaf children radio aids in the critical early years, before they start school, can be hugely beneficial for developing their language and supporting communication. But in which everyday situations can they help? Here’s our top five.

1. Family time at home
Whether it’s playing a game together, reading a story before bedtime or talking to your child when they’re in the garden or another room, a radio aid can help deaf children hear their parent’s voice clearly and directly, making them feel connected to their parents and helping build strong relationships.

2. Communicating in the car
When you’re driving you can’t turn to your child to sign, or for them to lip-read you, so being able to communicate effectively is vital when parents are travelling with their child. Radio aids can cut through the background noise of the car engine and the road, allowing you to soothe them if they’re having a tantrum, talk about where you’re going in the car and even play games to make the journey more fun!

3. At nursery or pre-school
Early years settings can be fantastic places for children to get a head start in developing their language and communication before they start school, but they can also be noisy places. Nursery staff can use a radio aid to get a deaf child’s attention to make sure they’re taking part in activities fully and mixing with other children, as well as starting to learn.

4. Staying safe when out and about
You’re at the park and your child is about to walk into the path of a swing, or worse – they let go of your hand and are headed straight for a road – how do you stop them when they can’t hear you calling after them? A radio aid means that your child can hear you at a distance and it will cut through the background noise so you can alert them to danger.

Helen and Alex tell us how a radio aid keeps their three-year-old daughter, Gwen, safe when crossing the road and riding her bike.

5. Actually, whenever they can’t see you
As a parent of a deaf child, you’ll often need to stop what you’re doing and face your child to get their attention and to talk to them, whether you’re out shopping, your child is in a pushchair or in a seat on the back of your bike – whenever they can’t see you. Being deaf aware and creating good conditions for listening are still important, but a radio aid can be a great help for busy parents in those everyday noisy situations that you just can’t control.

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Think radio aids might be right for your child?

Find out more about radio aids and how to get one by downloading our booklet for families How Radio Aids Can Help.

Try out a radio aid for free through our Technology Test Drive service.

Read our Quality Standards for the Use of Personal Radio Aids which sets out a common approach to providing radio aids for deaf children.

Watch our video of a group of mums who tell us how they use a radio aid when out and about with their child.

 

General election 2017- Scotland

Lois-Drake-2-cropped

Lois Drake, Policy and Campaigns Officer, National Deaf Children’s Society

On 18 April 2017, the Prime Minister, Theresa May announced a snap election would take place on 8 June 2017. What will your new MPs in Scotland do to ensure deaf children and young people and their families in your area get the support they need?

There has been positive progress lately in Scotland for deaf young people and their families. The British Sign Language (Scotland) Act 2015 (BSL Act) was passed which marked an historic moment for deaf people across the country.

The implementation of the new laws is now underway with the draft BSL National Plan open for consultation. However work must continue by closing any existing gaps in support that exist for all deaf children and young people and their families.

Some key facts prospective MPs in Scotland should be aware of:-

  • We estimate there are as many as 3850 deaf children in Scotland today and we believe that, with the right support, they can do anything other children can do;
  • Deafness is not a learning disability, but deaf learners consistently do worse than their hearing peers at school;
  • Teachers of the Deaf are vital for many deaf children but there is regional variation in staffing levels and services are being squeezed with half are due to retire within the next 10 to 15 years;
  • The latest Scottish Government data shows that last year 11.8% of deaf learners left school with no qualifications (compared with 2.6% of all pupils) and 38.7% obtained Highers or Advanced Highers (compared with 59.3% of all pupils). This gap in achievement at school goes on to affect deaf young people’s life chances, with 24.7% going onto university compared with 41.3% of those with no additional support needs;
  • The British Sign Language (Scotland) Act 2015, Getting It Right for Every Child (GIRFEC) and a strong focus on educational attainment all have the potential to drive positive outcomes for deaf children and their families;
  • While this progress should be celebrated, there is still much work to be done to ensure that every deaf child in Scotland gets the support they need from birth – with standards of support variable across Scotland, we need MPs who will champion deaf children in their area!
  • The early years are a critical time for deaf children to develop the language and communication skills they need for life, as outlined in our recent report Getting It Right From the Start;

Will your MP be an advocate for deaf children in your area?

Tell them to email us at campaigns.scotland@ndcs.org.uk to request a briefing.

General election 2017: Uninspected audiology services

Beccy Forrow Policy and Campaigns Officer

Beccy Forrow, Policy and Campaigns Adviser

Would you send your child to a school that hadn’t been inspected by Ofsted? Would you ride in a car that didn’t conform to industry safety standards? Would you eat in a restaurant that refused to take part in food hygiene inspections? All questions I’d answer no to.

But this is what is being allowed to happen with children’s audiology services in England. Only 15% of services have been inspected and achieved a high enough standard to become ‘accredited’. This leaves the majority of services uninspected – with deaf children, young people and their families having no idea whether they are attending a great service or one that is poor quality and unsafe.

Considering that an NHS report in 2014 found that one third of audiology services were failing to meet critical NHS quality standards, with no incentive to improve, it’s unlikely that many will now be providing a better service. This matters because hearing is critical to a child’s development of language and learning. Early diagnosis and support reduces the risk of delays in language, educational, social and emotional development. But this support needs to be consistently of good quality.

Earlier this year we created an audiology map so that parents could check if their local service had reached a high enough standard to be accredited. However, of 134 services, 40 have so far refused to take part in the inspection scheme at all. Many others have registered for the scheme but not moved closer to an inspection visit over the course of the last few years.

We’re calling on the next Government to make it compulsory for all children’s audiology services in England to take part in the inspections so that parents can be confident that they are fit for purpose. As the inspections cost money and can be time consuming to prepare for, it’s vital that the Government levels the playing field by making the inspections mandatory for all services. Audiology services for deaf children won’t get better on their own.

If any general election candidates come to your door, be sure to ask them about the quality of children’s audiology services. We’ve got some other questions you might like to ask them on our election web page.

Update! Scottish Parliament debate

Lois Drake

Louis Drake- Policy & Campaigns Assistant

Background:

Last week a debate took place in the Scottish Parliament on Educational Disadvantage and Deaf Children in Scotland, following the submission of a motion by Kenneth Gibson MSP. The motion was supported by 33 MSPs and was debated on 11 December 2014 with 16 MSPs attending.

You can watch the full debate here and read the official report here.

Key themes:

• MSPs congratulated the National Deaf Children’s Society on the work we do to support deaf children and their families and our campaigns to break down barriers experienced by this group.

• It was highlighted that all levels of hearing loss can affect educational attainment (Kenneth Gibson MSP & Liam McArthur), with those having mild hearing impairments consistently scoring under average too.

• The stigma around how we think about young deaf people was discussed with it being reiterated by a number of MSPs that deafness is not a learning disability and that “we have to get away from the perception that deaf children are different. They are not.” (Dennis Robertson MSP).

• Attention was drawn to the lack of qualified teachers of the deaf (ToDs) with it being highlighted that 1/3 of ToDs are underqualified. It was proposed by one MSP that there should be laws in place regarding the minimum level of qualifications of ToDs, with a suggested minimum Level 3 BSL qualification as there is concern the current Level 2 requirement might not be sufficiently advanced. The 6% decrease in numbers of ToDs over the last 3 years was highlighted and ½ of the workforce being due to retire in the next 10 – 15 years described at a potential ‘recruitment nightmare’ (Jayne Baxter MSP). The Minister was also asked to address the problem in regulation and monitoring of ToDs.

• Jenny Marra MSP probed the Minister on this point and asked whether he will put targets in place in order to move steadily towards more teachers being appropriately qualified.

• Lack of national data on numbers of deaf children in Scotland was addressed and that there needs to be accurate and relevant data in place in order to develop good policy (Kenneth Gibson MSP).

• Lack of statutory acoustics guidance was addressed with there being no standards in Scotland and a need to improve school acoustics (Liam McArthur MSP).

• The importance of early years and families was highlighted with a need to look beyond school and think about support families need to provide rich supportive home environments (Dennis Robertson MSP).

• In his closing speech the Minister accepted that an attainment gap exists for young deaf learners which needs to be closed by working together to develop an education system that unlocks the potential of all young people, including those with a hearing impairment. He also accepted that families need the skills to promote the development of language in the early years with the Curriculum for Excellence supporting personalisation. It was accepted that work needs to be done to improve the qualifications of teachers working with deaf children. The debate concluded with the Minister announcing the Scottish Government will be supporting the passage and principles of the BSL Bill.

NDCS view on the debate:

This was a successful debate which highlighted some of the most important issues affecting the education of deaf children. We were really pleased to have MSPs raise crucial issues around early years support, qualifications of teachers, acoustics regulations, as well as the need to promote better deaf awareness and inclusion generally in our schools and communities.

It is positive that the Minister has reiterated that he accepts an attainment gap exists for deaf learners and reaffirmed his commitment to working to close this. We are meeting with the Minister for Learning, Science and Scotland’s Languages in January and will pick up on these points. Our recommendation remains that Education Scotland carries out an Aspect Review into education provision for deaf learners. We are also pleased to see the Education Committee’s interest in deaf education through both the BSL Bill and its work programme around the attainment gap – we are keen to support this work in any way we can.

For further information contact:

Katie.rafferty@ndcs.org.uk
0141 354 7852

What parents and young people had to say on Teachers of the Deaf

NDCS - Ian Noon, Head of Policy and Research

Ian Noon, Head of Policy and Research

The Government in England have recently been consulting about what Teachers of the Deaf need to know and do to be able to work with deaf children and their families.

We asked our members for their views and some of the points that came back strongly were:

•  Lots of families value Teachers of the Deaf and their expertise
•  Some families said they wanted Teachers of the Deaf to be more able to communicate in sign language
•  Some families queried why Teachers of the Deaf didn’t support deaf young people in college, university or in apprenticeships and wanted Teachers of the Deaf to do more to support deaf young people post 16
•  Young people told us it was important that Teachers of the Deaf really took the time to get to know the individual they were supporting
•  Lots of young people told us that they wanted Teachers of the Deaf to do more to promote deaf awareness, using resources like Look, Smile, Chat

We have factored all of these points into our response. We also made a few other points including:

•  We’d like to see more emphasis on the role of Teachers of the Deaf working with the family to support deaf children, particularly in the early years
•  There needs to be greater quality control over course providers to make sure they’re producing consistently good Teachers of the Deaf
•  There are lots of concerns that large numbers of Teachers of the Deaf will be retiring within the next ten years. We want to see better co-ordination and workforce planning to make sure there is a steady supply of Teachers of the Deaf coming through the system to replace those retiring
•  1 month to consult on the role of Teachers of the Deaf is nowhere near enough. The Government should carry out a longer more fundamental review of Teachers of the Deaf and consider, for example, whether new specialisms should be introduced

You can read our response here.

We’d like to thank everyone who took the time to give us their views. We’ll be working hard to make sure that the Government listens to what we’ve had to say.

Tower Hamlets Campaign Win! – Overland saved!

Arthur Thomas Campaigns Officer

Arthur Thomas Campaigns Officer

Last night it was with great relief that we heard that Overland Day Nursery would be kept open, along with the other three day nurseries operating in Tower Hamlets.

At the Council Cabinet meeting the Mayor released the following statement:

“I am pleased to announce that after giving careful consideration to the views of users, parents, nursery workers, trade unions and other members of the community, it is our intention to keep all four nurseries open. I would like to thank everybody who took part in our community consultation exercise and reaffirm my commitment as Mayor that I will work with the community to best protect our borough from the impact of government cuts.”

This result came about following a hard fought campaign by the Tower Hamlets Deaf Children’s Society. I first met with parents from the group in October when they raised their concerns about the Your Borough, Your Voice consultation that threatened the only pre-school provision for deaf children within the borough. At this point the group had already established a petition and drafted letters to go to the council.

Blog photoThanks to the tireless efforts of members of the group, such as the Chair Husna Begum, with the support of the NDCS Regional Director for London Nicola Ward, the campaign went from strength to strength including news coverage and garnering support from local MPs and councillors, leading to the announcement last night.

The NDCS Policy and Campaigns team fights to improve services and oppose cuts both nationally and regionally and this success shows that campaigning works and that cuts to vital services are not inevitable. However this campaign mostly highlights the massive impact that Local Groups and the community can have when they come together to combat regional cuts.

You can find your nearest Local Group here or if you feel there is an issue in your area which requires campaigning please contact the NDCS Policy and Campaigns Team.

We at NDCS would like to say a big thank you to those in Tower Hamlets who took part in the campaign and the best of luck in the future.

NDCS Press Release can be found here

Husna’s Story: Why I’m campaigning to save the Overland Day Nursery

Parent Campaigner

Husna Begum, Parent Campaigner

Hello, my name is Husna Begum. I am a mother of a deaf child and I am also the chair for the Tower Hamlets Deaf Children’s Society (THDCS). My son Hamza was born with profound sensi-neurol hearing loss. He underwent surgery for bilateral cochlear implants aged 17 months. Previous to this, he had no access to sound whatsoever. Hamza is now 4 and attends a mainstream school with a Deaf resource Base, and is doing extremely well. His speech is coming along fantastically and so is his range of sign language. It’s when you see your child develop and improve day by day that you feel proud as a parent. You feel as though there is hope after all. I have had fantastic support from the Teachers of the Deaf in Tower Hamlets who have stood by and supported me and my son throughout his early years.

I became Chair for Tower Hamlets Deaf Children’s Society in September 2014. I can honestly say that it has been challenging and exciting at the same time. Since September the THDCS have had a lot going on. We organised our annual deaf picnic, which we held at Mile End Children’ Play park. The children and their families had a great time and we had a very good turnout. We had an entertainer, bake sale and much more. Our picnic event was written about in the East End Life newspaper. I have attended training days organised by the NDCS to make sure I am able to fulfil my role. However becoming Chair has not always been a happy event. We were shocked to learn that Overland day Nursery was under threat of closure/privatization by Tower Hamlets Local Authority. Overland day nursery is a unique nursery. It’s the only one that provides a resource base for the deaf/partially hearing children in the borough. The nursery provides the much needed early intervention to help support and maximise the children’s listening and speech and language development.

Image of Tower Hamlets Deaf Children's Society

Tower Hamlets Deaf Children’s Society Committee (Husna centre) Image courtesy of Tower Hamlets Deaf Children’s Society

Overland day nursery was attended by my son Hamza at the age of 22 months. During his time at the nursery he made a huge improvement in his listening and communication skills. He had picked up on a vast array of sign language and was able to differentiate between different types of sounds. He became a confident little boy and started to use speech. I was overwhelmed with his improvement, a child who never spoke, started to call me mum. As a parent it was the most memorable and beautiful moment. The staff at Overland are an invaluable asset. They are specialised in all things deaf related, British sign Language and knowing how to deal with hearing aids and cochlear implants. They provide support and empower the deaf children with a sense of belonging in the deaf community and integrating them with their hearing peers. The nursery is purposely built to meet the needs of the deaf children. The rooms are soundproofed and have good acoustics. All this is needed to maximise their listening potential. In a deaf child’s life this is a very sensitive time when their brain is ready to learn. If these learning opportunities are missed it will be even harder to learn these skills later on in life. My son had the best start in life and was given the opportunity to access early years support. I know that he can achieve anything. However, this may not be a possibility to others if the nursery is taken away.

THDCS have been attending meetings and protests to help stop the proposal from going ahead.

As part of our ongoing campaign I have started a petition, I hope you will show your support for this vital service and sign.

Thank you.