Tuesday, 13 August 2019

Signing Avatars to make a come back?

Under-Achieving deaf in the UK.

Deaf children across England are struggling at every stage of their education because of ‘a lifetime of being left behind’, according to a Deaf Children’s Society. 

The charity issued the warning after its new analysis of the Department for Education’s 2018 exam results for pupils up to the age of 19. It showed that just 44% of deaf pupils achieve two A-levels or equivalent, compared to 63% of hearing pupils. On average, deaf children also fall an entire grade behind their hearing classmates at GCSE. In addition, less than three quarters of them (73%) will gain five GCSEs or equivalent by age 19, compared to 88% of hearing children. 

The situation is even worse for English and Maths, which are often both required to progress in education. Half (52%) of deaf pupils gain five GCSE passes or equivalent when English and Maths are included. This rises to three quarters (76%) for hearing pupils. The Deaf Children’s Society says that the problem affects deaf children throughout their education, as they arrive at secondary school having already fallen behind. Less than half (43%) reach the expected standard for reading, writing and maths at Key Stage 2, compared to three quarters (74%) of other children. There are similar concerns at Key Stage 1, with just over half (53%) of deaf children reaching the expected standard compared to 84% of their classmates. 

The Deaf Children’s Society says that deafness isn’t a learning disability and with the right support, deaf children can achieve the same as their hearing classmates. However, it says the figures clearly show that deaf children are being failed at every turn by an education system that should be supporting them, with cuts to support services and key staff leaving the special educational needs system in crisis.


The issue is not so much education failing them as the lack of professionals to enable and teach them, since deaf schools closed down, and since the mainstreaming of deaf children was initiated, then professionals retiring or unable to go where the 'inclusion' is. There appears no real or dedicated policy to train more with deaf schools going.  The old system only worked by putting all deaf in one place.  There is also issue with the Deaf themselves who want mainstreaming halted and a return to that special schooling in far-flung fields where their culture can prosper better.  However, the dire lack of professionals today would fail to enable that and continuing issues with BSL Interpreter shortages and rows mean it doesn't look too good for deaf adults either.  

The enduring problem is that 'specialisation' with the deaf means they are far less likely to manage inclusion and the focus on sign language (The deaf children's charity doesn't support in education),  tends to disadvantage options at adulthood.  The only response to that seems to mean endless rights arguments and a blame culture thriving, neither addressing the real issues of a lack of professional staff to TEACH deaf children, or professional support when they are adult.  

Thus sending the young deaf without that support to higher education to the vagaries of  'assistants', 'mentors', and 'helpers' etc means deaf students cannot follow effectively. Some Uni's complaining they often lack basic literacy and should not be in a Univesity without that, they are overruled by deaf rights, but the deaf still don't have the means to follow effectively even with a terp, because few terps specialise in educational support, they have no central structure or organisation themselves as most are freelance.    

It's a myth a terp can translate anything and everything, e.g. deaf need terps specialising in health, at higher mathematics etc, these,  the deaf don't have and terp training doesn't cover, it s choice left to the terp.  In essence, the deaf student won't be able to find one.

The deaf child gets used to supportive specialist deaf education early years, they then find it difficult to adapt to a Uni or higher hearing area approach where they may be the only deaf student there.  The issues appear to begin at specialisation support day one, as yet, nobody can see an alternative way of offering a deaf child wider communication options and their campaigners are against it.