Wednesday, 21 June 2017

HI still poorly supported in Wales.

ARFON’S AM has lambasted the Welsh education system, accusing it of failing to support children with hearing impairments. 

During Deaf Awareness Week, Plaid Cymru equalities spokesperson Siân Gwenllian has highlighted the attainment gap suffered by deaf children within the education system in Wales.

Figures from Welsh Government reveal that only 49 per cent of deaf pupils achieved GCSEs in core subjects, compared to 70 per cent of pupils with no hearing issues. “This is totally unacceptable,” said Mrs Gwenllian. “Plaid Cymru are committed to protecting the interests of those who are most vulnerable within our society – including deaf children.”

The Assembly member has been speaking to a local family to discuss these issues and to gain a greater understanding of the challenges experienced by deaf people – especially young people. Iona Rhys and her partner Ashley Cooke from Bethesda have three children, Ifan, Myfi and Nel. Myfi and Nel are twins, and Nel was diagnosed as having 80 per cent hearing loss when she was four years old.

“For a long time people were telling us she was autistic,” said Iona.  “We always knew it wasn’t that, though. It was thanks to the efforts of her primary school headteacher that Nel finally got her diagnosis and got her hearing aids.”  Nel lip reads and uses British Sign Language (BSL) too and, although she is included and fully accepted by her peer group, adults can be a different matter, suggests her mother.

“There is still a lack of awareness around deafness,” added Iona.  “Adults often think that because she has the hearing aids then she’s OK, but that’s not the case. There are letters and words that Nel still doesn’t hear, so when it comes to her written work she sometimes misses those words out and is marked down.

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