Saturday, 1 September 2018

Open letter to Jim Fitzpatric MP.

Image result for Jim fitzpatrick MPTo Jim Fitzpatric MP re Deaf Education.

I have read about your desire to introduce debate regarding deaf children's education (As a deaf adult myself), and would like to offer a few questions regarding what is the thrust of this debate (The aim?), bearing in mind regional approaches to deaf education aren't a 'UK' norm.

For example, Wales has own assembly and own approaches to education, and NO deaf schools.  When we read about 'debates in Westminster' it is never made clear that certain issues,  and responses to them, do not relate to other areas.  Most deaf areas/charities publicise online, and this is never made clear.  Hence it can be assumed it relates to all.

As regards to issues of deaf children's education, primarily that issue revolves around inadequate support for the deaf child to be included alongside hearing peers.  Consensus by parents and the state aim is inclusion, and not specialist schooling except for the more seriously impaired deaf, there are other issues of oral V signed support in education too, including recent lobbies for a BSL GCSE which cannot be made viable..

What we read is not parental views mostly, but BSL lobbies.  If we stand back and look at what is required/needed (Not preferred, as a preference is not a defined need in a child), what we see via poor support is insufficient trained staff to do that, combined with a reluctance to pay for it.  At adulthood in some areas e.g. 1 translator for a 100 deaf, the reality often ignored is most deaf do not rely on sign language anyway.

I would urge you to address the issues of culture versus education which is very strong.  Whilst most educationalists and parents would be primarily concerned with communication, deaf lobbies are concerned primarily with the assumed cultural aspect instead.  It would appear their primary aim is an eventual Stand-alone BSL  immersive approach.

Currently, and regarding adult support, interpreting is losing ground because of fees for services being challenged by the state/DWP and the nature of Deaf support which is free-lance and not organised or subject to accreditation and monitoring of approaches except by own hearing bodies, who are resisting a national set-up and 'normalisation' of Deaf support, a free-for-all in essence..    

You could also bear in mind the majority with deafness and hearing loss who are not sign users, have no national/regional support at all.  Bear in mind 'Deaf' lobbies are not including these children either, there is a potential issue of 'tiered' support and localised approaches that can create issues between deaf children and others.  It could well mean deaf 'have and have-nots' in education.  An inequality of real support, a type of support that is one size fits all, and applied via a postcode approach.

With the Deaf and the Member of Parliament lobbying for support, the basic reality OF that support is not being recognised. It becomes a job with no viable wage.  There are no drives to ensure qualified training and support for the deaf is any priority.  Staffing BSL demands in education currently aren't possible at this time. 

The BSL approach needs to be addressed in regards to future adult outcomes.  We are all aware of the very poor deaf child support but need to bear in mind, that the drive to right that inequality, does not drive the deaf child and future adult further away from the inclusion processes and it is able to function in a world that is primarily, hearing and non-signing, not deaf.

I feel this sober and factual realisation/message is being buried under a groundswell of cultural demand, and urge the Member of Parliament to approach such a debate with this in mind.  As we all rightly accept the child must come first, and the parental wishes, and that education is that pathway to a future of inclusion, acceptance, and communication approaches, really need to be taught with that in mind.

Yours Sincerely, in anticipation of a reply.