5 articles the Campaigns Team has been reading this week

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

Jonathan Barnes, Campaigns Assistant

Every week we’ll be compiling a short list of articles that we’ve noticed in the news and want to share with you. Some of them will be about campaigning and others will be about changes to policy, or relevant policy areas, which may be of interest.

1)   The Beckhams learn sign language, Orange News

Victoria Beckham and her husband David are learning sign language with their children so they can communicate with a deaf friend. The stars and their three boys, Brooklyn, Romeo and Cruz, have all been receiving tuition – but Victoria admits their youngest son has been using the regular sessions to learn a number of cheeky expressions.

2)  Shock over plan to cut free NHS hearing aids: Thousands could be denied device under cost-cutting plans, Victoria Fletcher, Daily Mail

Thousands of people who struggle to hear properly could be denied NHS hearing aids under ‘shocking’ cost-cutting plans being considered by health bosses. Under the new proposals, those classed as ‘hard-of-hearing’ would have to wait until they had ‘severe’ hearing loss to qualify for the devices.

3)   ‘Disconnect’ in parents’ careers advice and jobs market, Pippa Stevens, BBC News

There is a “disturbing disconnect” between parents’ traditional careers advice to their children and the needs of the jobs market, research says. One in 10 of 2,000 parents said they would “actively discourage” their kids from digital jobs such as coding.

4)   How my son benefited from accessing his education with skilled sign language support, Limping Chicken

Anonymous post from a parent talking about the importance of the correct support for deaf children in the classroom. It does, however, mention the NDCS Stolen Futures campaign, so definitely worth a read!

5)   10 things teachers want to say to parents, but can’t, The Guardian

An anonymous teacher writes about what he/she would say to parents if he/she could. Fairly self-explanatory.

Have you seen any articles this week that you liked? Post the link to them in the comments section below and we’ll check them out!

11 things you didn’t know about childhood deafness

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

Jonathan Barnes, Campaigns Assistant

 

This blog was co-written with Vicki Kirwin, Development Manager, at the National Deaf Children’s Society (NDCS). 

 

1)   More than 90% of deaf children are born to hearing parents meaning new parents have no previous knowledge about deafness and rely on good support and information to understand how best to help their child

2)   You may know that there are 45,000 deaf children in the UK. But did you know that 1 in 5 pre-school children have a temporary deafness caused by glue ear at any one time? That’s more than 770,000 young children experiencing deafness right now.

3)   Classrooms are noisy places and even a child with mild hearing loss can miss as much as 50% of classroom discussion without appropriate support.

4)   Not all deaf children are born deaf. At least half develop deafness during childhood. This can be because they inherited a gene that causes childhood-onset deafness, or because of infection, illness or injury.

5)   The word ‘cochlea’ comes from the Latin for ‘snail shell’. The cochlea has 2.5 turns in its ‘shell’.


6)   The inner ear is where the cochlea detects sound and turns it into electrical signals. These signals are sent to the brain which interprets or makes sense of what has been heard.


7)   There is some great technology to help support a lot of deaf children with their learning and development.

8)   Deaf children are just as likely to enjoy music and develop an interest in playing musical instruments as hearing children, if exposed to them. NDCS supports music teachers and venues in being deaf friendly.

9)   If given the right opportunities deaf children can learn and use two or more languages, including sign language, English and other spoken foreign languages.


10)   There are at least 137 different sign languages used around the world (the one shown below is not one of them). Find out more here.

11)   Given the right support deaf children can do anything their hearing friends can. But they can’t clean their ears with their tongue unlike this giraffe whose tongue is 21-inches long!

 

The National Deaf Children’s Society are working to bring about a world without barriers for all deaf children.

Join us to campaign today.

Super dad Graham campaigns for deaf children

Graham

Graham Manfield, Parent Campaigner

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.

Parent representation

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’.

Get involved

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

7 things you didn’t know NDCS had done for deaf children

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

Jonathan Barnes, Campaigns Assistant

 

Nearly 70 years (on December 12th this year) after NDCS was founded, we thought it’d be a good time to look back at some of our achievements over the course of our existence.

1)    Campaigned for the introduction of the Newborn Hearing Screening Programme

This means that all babies get their hearing checked within hours of being born. Before newborn hearing screening, some deaf children wouldn’t be diagnosed for several years, missing out on crucial language development.

2)    Provided a £150 teaching scholarship to fund one student on Manchester University’s Teacher of the Deaf course*

*this was back in 1946, so £150 went a lot further than it would today!

3)    Campaigned successfully for local authorities to pay qualified teachers while they were re-training as Teachers of the Deaf in 1949

4)    Raised awareness of the impact of glue ear

This was largely thanks to a 1984 report called Undiscovered Deafness. Our resources on glue ear remain one of the most downloaded resources on the NDCS website.

5)    Getting the law changed

NDCS pushed for a change to the Academies Act in 2010 to make sure that academies didn’t end up draining funding away from local authority services for deaf children. It ended up being the current government’s first defeat in the House of Lords on any of its new laws.

6)    Worked with others to successfully campaign to make British Sign Language (BSL) an official language in 2003

We’re continuing the fight to make sure families have better access to sign language courses.

7)    Since 2011, campaigned to stop local authorities cutting services for deaf children

This includes taking legal action in Stoke-on-Trent to stop cuts to the number of Teachers of the Deaf.

Help us continue this work by joining our Campaigns Network today.

Working to influence the Children’s and Families Act

NDCS - Ian Noon, Head of Policy and Research

Ian Noon, Head of Policy and Research

Last Thursday was a big day – Her Majesty decided to give her “royal assent” to the Children and Families Bill, thus turning it into the ‘Children’s and Families Act’.

This Act sets out a whole new range of laws on special educational needs (SEN). A National Deaf Children’s Society FAQ for parents has more information but it’s been described as the biggest shake up of the SEN system in 30 years and will have big implications for how deaf children are supported. So no pressure on us here at the National Deaf Children’s Society…

We’ve been working to influence these reforms right from the very start. It’s been a long hard slog. There have been many meetings, countless consultations and plenty of parliamentary debates – all to make sure that the needs of deaf children were considered.

Before all of that though, we needed to find out what parents of deaf children thought. We ran a series of focus groups and surveys and then wrote up what parents thought of the proposals. Politicians and civil servants were then reminded repeatedly about what our members want. It really helped bring our arguments to life.

So what’s been achieved along the way? Some key achievements include:

  1. A review is now taking place into whether Ofsted should have a greater role in inspecting local SEN provision.
  2. It will be harder for local authorities to end support to a young person just because they’ve turned 19. Now local authorities must consider if they’ve achieved the outcomes set for them and not just “have regard to age”.
  3. At one point, parents would be required to undergo mediation with the local authority if they wanted to take any issues to a Tribunal. Now they must consider mediation, but now have the option to say no.
  4. Not every disabled child has ‘SEN’ but many will still need support. This created a risk that some children would fall through the net. The Special Educational Consortium (SEC) and Every Disabled Child Matters (EDCM) pushed hard for more strategic support from local authorities for both disabled and SEN children.
  5. Recognition of the essential role of Teachers of the Deaf has been kept – for example, the Act requires that Teachers of the Deaf be involved in any statutory assessments of deaf children.

Key to our success has been the way the sector has worked together. The National Deaf Children’s Society has worked closely with our counterparts at RNIB and Sense to raise common issues in relation to children with sensory impairment, as well as with EDCM and SEC.

Not everything has gone our way. Some of the above changes have been hard fought right to the end. Other times, it’s felt like we’ve been banging our heads against brick walls…

And there’s still plenty of work to be done. Whilst the Act provides the overall framework, a lot of the practical requirements will be set out in guidance, called the SEN Code of Practice. We’re expecting this to be published this spring and Westminster will again get the chance to debate this. Also, it’s great that Ofsted are reviewing the SEN inspection framework but we will need to monitor it closely to make sure they take action after this review.

And, of course, all of these changes have to be implemented. Our biggest concern remains that these changes are going to be made in a context of massive spending cuts, as we know from the Stolen Futures campaign. There is the potential for massive upheaval for services for deaf children. The National Deaf Children’s Society’s team of Regional Directors will now be working to influence implementation in each of the 152 local authorities in England and to challenge any cuts where they arise.

Overall, the Bill becoming an Act is a big milestone. It feels like a good moment to pause and reflect on how far we’ve come… and then start to get ready for the next phase of this big SEN shake up.

First month’s campaigning at NDCS

Alex Chitty, Campaigns Assistant at NDCS - Stolen Futures

Alex Chitty, Campaigns Assistant

Having just celebrated one month of working for NDCS, it seems like the perfect time to share what my first few weeks have entailed.

A bit about my team
Joining NDCS, an organisation at the forefront of campaigning for deaf children and young people has been a fantastic experience. The team has been hugely welcoming and it has been great getting out and about meeting regional staff and learning more about the excellent campaigning that takes place. Much of this campaigning is driven by dedicated parents of deaf children and young people and has had some brilliant results.

What have I been up to?
A large part of my role is to support local campaigners – and the Stolen Futures campaign more widely at large – so that together we ensure that there is adequate funding for public services for deaf children and their families. So far this has included:

  • Reviewing the Ofsted statements of mainstream schools in several regions of England to see what specific provisions are being made deaf children and children with special educational needs (SEN)
  • Preparing and sending Freedom of Information (FOI) requests to Local Authorities and Clinical Commissioning Groups asking for clarification on their budgets for deaf children and young people’s education, social care, and speech and language therapy
  • Highlighting opportunities for parents to participate in council-run consultations and surveys on SEN reform
  • Attending training on the 2010 Equality Act to find out how this piece of legislation can be used to protect and advocate for the rights of children with disabilities and/or SEN

What’s next?
Later this month we will be receiving responses to the FOI requests and from these we will be determining if any cuts to services have taken place or are scheduled to occur. We will then decide what campaigning steps we can take to reverse or stop these changes, so please do keep an eye on our cuts map for updates on your area.

Very excitingly, on 22nd March 2014, I will also be providing some training on ‘How to build effective relationships with local decision-makers and organisations’ at a Yorkshire and the Humber Networking Day.

How you can campaign
If you think campaigning sounds fun and would like to help us create a world without barriers for all deaf children, then why not join our Campaigns Network and lend your voice to our national and local lobbying? It’s a great way for you to find out more about what we are campaigning on and to get involved in some quick and easy actions! Or if you have an issue which you’d like help campaigning on, please do not hesitate to get in touch: campaigns@ndcs.org.uk

A round up of 2013 – an exciting year for NDCS campaigns

Jessica Reeves Campaigns Manager

Jess Reeves, Campaigns Manager

Happy New Year! I’m Jess Reeves, Campaigns Manager here at NDCS. With the new year now upon us, the campaigns team decided to set up a new blog about campaigning and as I am about to go on maternity leave, I jumped at the opportunity to compose the first post, a look back at our campaign successes in 2013.

2013 was a huge year for NDCS and the Stolen Futures campaign in particular. After achieving 51,000 signatures on our petition about preventing cuts to services for deaf children across England, MPs turned up to debate the issue on the floor of the House of Commons. This is the first time this has happened and something that would not have been possible without the support of NDCS members and campaigners.

Efforts to ensure that the Children and Families Bill works better for deaf children did not go unrewarded, including making sure that deaf young people over the age of 19 will be able to access Education Health and Care Plans.

Want to know more about proposed changes to special educations needs in England ? Find out more here

In Scotland, we worked with the National Services Division and others towards setting up a specialist mental health service for deaf children and young people. Another first for deaf children and young people.

We also did a lot to promote positive transitions from school to further education or training among deaf young people through the publication the Template for Success and Quality Standards in Transitions in Audiology. Both designed to support professionals to understand the rights and needs of deaf young people.

In Wales, the highlight of 2013 was presenting a video petition by deaf young people to the National Assembly’s Petitions Committee outlining our Close the Gap campaign. The Petitions Committee is still discussing our petition, so watch this space!

There was also success at a local level, driven by parents, local deaf children’s societies and campaigners. The local authority in Tameside was persuaded to recruit a Teacher of the Deaf. In Birmingham, following responses from parents, the local authority pledged to protect services for deaf children in the next round of budget cuts.

The next year is going to be tough as cuts continue and we all get to grips with new legislation, but I’m sure that with your support we will rise to these challenges, continuing to break down barriers for deaf children.

This new blog is also an opportunity for you to share your stories about standing up for deaf children, we are really keen to have guest contributors from the front line, be they parents, professionals or deaf young people themselves.

If you have an idea for a future blog posting, email us at campaigns@ndcs.org.uk, or leave a comment at the bottom of this page.

As I will be away coping with new challenges of my own for the majority of 2014, I’d like to take this opportunity to introduce Liz Partridge who will be taking over as Campaigns Manager while I’m away. Some of you will already know Liz who has been with the campaigns team for a couple of years now, and I’m sure you’ll agree that I’m leaving you in good hands.

Contact: campaigns@ndcs.org.uk