Thursday, 4 March 2021

Deaf children in Wales.

The only reliable guide to welsh deaf child support is contained via BATOD/CRIDE 2,642 Overall those with severe to profound loss constitute 21%. of the whole with only 5 unable to be supported except by the specialist deaf school, or even other specialist areas. One-third of deaf children use some form of sign language.  


The BSL Bill does not explain where the teachers to the deaf will come from and currently there is an imbalance of qualified sign language tutors in deaf education now, and acute shortages.  It doesn't really justify a separate BSL Bill in education as sign language is accommodated already.  The CRIDE reports make no mention of cultural inclusion.  Which we strongly suspect is the real motivation of the BSL campaigners.

CRIDE Summary (2017), key findings:

• There are at least 2,642 deaf children in Wales; a reported increase of 11% over the past year.

• 81% of school-aged deaf children attend mainstream schools. 8% attend mainstream schools with resource provisions, whilst 10% attend special schools not specifically for deaf children.

• 23% of deaf children are recorded as having an additional special educational need. The most common additional need appears to be severe learning difficulties.

• Around 6% of deaf children have at least one cochlear implant, and 3% of deaf children have a bone conduction device.

• 3% of deaf children use an additional spoken language other than English or Welsh in the home.

• Figures on languages used by severely or profoundly deaf children in school or other education settings show that 68% communicate mainly using spoken English only , 7% mainly use spoken Welsh only while 34% mainly use sign language in some form, either on its own (7%) or alongside spoken English (24%) or spoken Welsh (3%).

• The most common post-school destination for deaf young people is further education, with 65% taking his option. 

There are at least 66.93 Teacher of the Deaf posts, of which 6% were vacant. Of the 63.03 staff working as Teachers of the Deaf, 95% held the mandatory qualification.

• The number of qualified Teachers of the Deaf in employment fell by 12% over the past year. It has fallen by 20% since the CRIDE survey started in 2011. This can be partly, but not completely, explained by a rise in vacant posts.

• 19% of Teachers of the Deaf hold a Level 3 or higher qualification in British Sign Language.

• There are at least 87.7 other specialist support staff working with deaf children in Wales, a 3% decrease since last year.

• 14% of teaching assistants hold a Level 3 or higher qualification in British Sign Language. 43% of communication support workers, whose role is to help deaf children who communicate in sign language access the curriculum, hold a Level 3 or higher qualification.

• There are 25 resource provisions across Wales. 

• There are at least 66.93 Teacher of the Deaf posts, of which 6% were vacant. Of the 63.03 staff working as Teachers of the Deaf, 95% held the mandatory qualification.

• The number of qualified Teachers of the Deaf in employment fell by 12% over the past year. It has fallen by 20% since the CRIDE survey started in 2011. This can be partly, but not completely, explained by a rise in vacant posts.

• 19% of Teachers of the Deaf hold a Level 3 or higher qualification in British Sign Language.

• There are at least 87.7 other specialist support staff working with deaf children in Wales, a 3% decrease since last year.

• 14% of teaching assistants hold a Level 3 or higher qualification in British Sign Language. 43% of communication support workers, whose role is to help deaf children who communicate in sign language access the curriculum, hold a Level 3 or higher qualification.

• 87% of services are based in the local authority.

• There are 25 resource provisions across Wales. 

. There are no deaf schools.

The welsh government survey/policies of BSL in Welsh education quite clearly already accepts sign use with deaf children.  What it doesn't do is explain how a signed educational approach benefits the deaf as adults?  The overwhelming priorities are teaching the deaf child effective language and/or acquiring it.  There is a difference on what language that is, and which is most effective.  It is child and ability driven more than cultural.  Future options tend to take a secondary place to that, herein lies the problem, do we go for a visual medium that society doesn't use or accommodate or teach alternatives? something in between that isn't one thing or another?

Sign benefits their social aspect obviously, but little proof it enhances their inclusion, their educational, or work prospects as much.   This creates issues on leaving deaf edcuation.  The NDCS 'Informed choice' support (As reported to ATR yesterday by the NDCS), will explain that?  Nobody has so far including the RNID/BATOD/BDA.  The overall message is the NDCS support a right, via informed choice, but, so has Wales education already.  Deaf schools have gone because of the success of the technology, alleviation, and mainstreaming. 

What is an INFORMED CHOICE?

What does Informed Choice mean? Informed Choice means that families can make knowledgeable decisions, which reflect their own culture, values and views. It is based on access to comprehensive, unbiased and evidence-based information, about the full range of options.  

(So the BSL Bill is a cultural demand will culture be ignored via sign tuition?)  The glaring issue is that deaf children don't come from deaf families, 9 out of 10 don't, this means hearing parents cannot make an informed choice according to campaigners. Presumably, the informers of choice will come FROM their own areas? I.E. areas who exist to support them, obviously with a prime vested interest and biased.   Where will other 'options' come from?  and will they be countered by cultural demand and rights?  'Stacked deck' springs to mind, not informed choice.

Inclusion and wider options in deaf education, need time to work not opposition from deaf cultists. Overall the welsh approach has resulted in nil need for deaf schools in Wales, an astounding success story.  The concerns raised that denial of BSL are obviously not based in fact, and nobody is addressing the elephant in the room as to what options are available to deaf reliant on sign language and with learning difficulties coping in the mainstream where BSL is not a communication mode most use or know.  Auditory Verbal Technology is also empowering deaf children with a voice to use.  Do parents want a return to the signing mute options?  Deaf schools? a deaf education based on culture?

So far Welsh parents have said not.  The charity and Mr Isherwood support for a Bill fails to answer or respond to this realism, it will be interesting to see who provides neutral informed choice TO parents and Ministers. The opening 'salvo' and BSL Bill proposal contained none. 

Understandably parents are anxious their deaf children are struggling in education and as adults, will alternative choices sway them toward a singular BSL approach based on ignoring those realities?  In the forlorn hope 'society' will adapt to and accommodate them?  Nobody is talking inclusion are they?

Perhaps the most damaging to BSL Bill campaign is this, from their own sign language media survey.