Posted by Ian Noon on February 1, 2012
Maria Miller MP, Disability Minister
One thing that has always made me feel angry is that the way that deaf people are forced to “cope”. Other disabled people are much worse off. But deafness still poses huge barriers. In a civilised society, deaf people shouldn’t have to go through life “coping”. Deaf people need support to help them become independent and thrive and to manage the additional costs that come with being a deaf person in a world that still isn’t set up for deaf people.
Tonight, MPs have voted to cut benefits for deaf children. Where families with deaf children receive tax credits, some were entitled to “disability additions”. These additions are going to be cut by half, at a cost of £1,400 a year, to some families. A briefing by Every Disabled Child Matters explains more.
Lords tried to overturn it last night. Baroness Wilkins made a powerful speech about the impact of this cut on deaf children. But MPs – including a large number who signed a National Deaf Children’s Society pledge to support deaf children – have voted to ignore the Lords, close any further discussion of it and proceed with a cut to help for deaf and other disabled children.
Yes, we are in difficult financial times. But I don’t remember reading anywhere that deaf children caused the global economic recession.
Yes, other disabled people need more support. But I think all disabled people would say that this shouldn’t be at cost of support for deaf children. Anyone who thinks that deafness is “disability-lite” needs to see the world through the eyes of a deaf child struggling and their parents.
Yes, deaf people can succeed in life and do well. But I don’t think the Government should accept that “coping” is a fair way for deaf people to live their lives.
This is going to have a devastating impact on many families with deaf children and push many into poverty. The Government is trying to balance the budget on the backs of deaf children. It’s just wrong.
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: benefits, child tax credits; disability additions, cuts, deaf children, Government, welfare reform bill | 14 Comments »
Posted by Ian Noon on February 1, 2011
One of the key parts of my job – besides drinking gratuitous amounts of sugary tea – is collecting evidence to support our campaign work. And with the cuts coming, NDCS has been doing a lot of work over the past month to develop a survey using some fancy survey monkey software. No actual monkeys are involved, which is a shame, but there are a range of questions aiming to tease out from parents of deaf children across the UK:
1) Why specialist support services for deaf children are important;
2) What would happen if these services were cut; and
3) What cuts are happening already.
The results will be used in my campaigns work to lobby the purse-holders not to touch funding for specialist support services for deaf children.
The survey hasn’t been out long but nearly 500 parents have responded which is fantastic. But I’m hoping and working to get it up even higher. Maybe even up to a thousand? The more responses, the more I’ll be able to bang the results over the head of the purse-string holders until they agree that actually, yeah, it’s not a good idea to cut services for deaf children who are already among the most educationally disadvantaged kids around today.
Any bright ideas on promoting the survey to parents of deaf children much appreciated.
Watch this space for details of the survey results.
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: cuts, deaf children, Government, National Deaf Children's Society, NDCS, services, spending, survey | 3 Comments »
Posted by Ian Noon on April 20, 2010
Those with long memories might remember from a previous blog posting that the Government was proposing to introducing new laws which would require primary school children to learn a moderen foreign language. The National Deaf Children’s Society felt that these would discourage schools from teaching British Sign Language (BSL) and didn’t gave BSL the same status as modern foreign languages.
Do you want the good news first? Well, the proposals to make primary school children learn a new language were abandoned by the Government a few weeks back, just before Parliament was dissolved for the general election.
The bad news? The proposals weren’t abandoned because of a change of heart, but to get other new laws through in the short term then available. Judging by correspondence from around the same time, the Government hasn’t really changed its mind on BSL. Warm words aside, the Government is sticking to its definition of languages, not realising that the creation of a definition of languages which excludes BSL is arbitrary and therefore, discriminatory. As well as offensive to those who communicate in BSL. Why is BSL less valuable than Welsh or Mandarin that schools shouldn’t be free to teach it in schools if they want to do so?
Because there is no change of heart, it means that these proposals could return to Parliament, depending on the outcome of the general election. I’m on red alert.
More detail from NDCS on the issue is on their website. In the meantime, what are your views? What are your thoughts on how to make the decision-makers realise that, duh!, BSL should have the same status as other modern foreign languages?
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: British Sign Language, BSL, Children Schools and Families Act, deaf children, Government, languages, NDCS, primary school, primary schools | 3 Comments »
Posted by Ian Noon on October 11, 2008
The summer holidays are officially over with Parliament returning to business this week. But before that, the headteacher, Gordon Brown has been busy this week reshuffling his team of Ministers. And of the three Ministers that worked on the policy areas most key to us, ALL three have now moved on!
Lord Adonis, the Minister responsible for special educational needs at the Department for Children, Schools and Families, has been replaced by Sarah McCarthy-Fry.
Ivan Lewis, the Minister responsible for audiology at the Department of Health, has been replaced by Phil Hope.
And Anne McGuire, Minister for Disability, has been replaced by Jonathan Shaw.
Here are all of the new faces:
You can understand the need for fresh blood, and to rejuvenate policy. But to have the three Ministers we work with most closely go at the same time… At a time, when we just about to meet with one (now cancelled) and had just met with another… Hmm. I was also minded of a recent Action for Children report which set out in detail the amount of policy churn relating to policy towards children, and the impact this has on people working on the ground.
Still, it’s an opportunity as much as anything. We’ll be working to forge new contacts going forward. In fact, we’ve already met, by chance, one of the new Ministers which I’ll be blogging about soon…
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: Action for Children, Government, Ministers, reshuffle | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Ian Noon on May 19, 2008
I like lists. I’ve done lists since a child. I use to do my own top 10 of songs each week and then do a personal kind of Top of the Pops of Ian’s favourite songs. Kylie Minogue was number one a lot.
Er, anyhow, with lists in mind, I thought I’d do a list of five ways in which you can help support NDCS campaigns and and fight to create a world without barriers for deaf children too.
1) Write to your MP. MPs are there to serve their constituents and can be very responsive to your concerns (they won’t get re-elected if they don’t!). And if there are a large number of MPs concerned about a particular issue, the more a Government is likely to take notice, and take action.
We’re currently asking our members to write to their MP about educational under achievement of deaf children. Our website makes it easy for you to do this – just write in your details, and we can work out who your MP is and prepare a draft message that you can check out and send to your MP.
2) Complete our short surveys. You’re probably bombarded with people wanting to hear your views. But when we do it, its because having lots of data on what parents of deaf children think can be invaluable in getting MPs and Ministers to see the scale of the challenges that deaf children face. With the data from our short survey on accessible TV for deaf children, we’re going to lobby Government Ministers and broadcasters to improve the quantity and quality of subtitles and push for more deaf role models on TV.
3) Tell us your stories. Nothing brings a campaign to life more than hearing the real-life experiences of a family and a deaf child that have been affected by a particular issue. That’s why we’re always looking for families to tell us their stories and be a case study. We will never use your experiences unless you have given us explicit permission to do so. Send an email to my colleague Pippa McIntyre at email@example.com if you’re interested in helping us.
4) Respond to Government consultations. From time to time, Governments from across the UK will ask for views from the general public. Responding to these can be a great way of ensuring that Government policy takes into account the needs of deaf children. An opportunity has just come up with a call for evidence issued on child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS).
5) Sign a petition. But gone are the days of signing a piece of paper on a dusty clip-board. You can now sign petitions online – and you can even sign petitions on the Downing Street website. In fact, there’s a petition online right now that encourages the Government to fully ratify a UN Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
These are just five ideas to get you going. The campaigns section of our website lists all of the current campaigns that NDCS are running, with an up to date list of all the ways that you can support our campaigns. If there are any other campaigns you think we should be running, let us know. It’d be great to hear your thoughts.
Posted in General | Tagged: Campaigns, childhood deafness, consultations, deaf children, Government, MPs, taking action | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Ian Noon on May 1, 2008
OK, so maybe my job isn’t quite as sinister and shadowy as I made out in my last post. In fact, I work in a normal office near Barbican, London with a desk that’s overflowing with papers, and yellow post-it notes all over the place warning me of imminent deadlines. Oh, and my chair’s wonky too.
So what does a campaigns officer do? At the risk of sounding like someone who doesn’t know what they do (ahem!), I sometimes find it hard to put into simple words what my job involves. At the basic level, my job is to make change happen. I work with my colleagues to try and influence and persuade other key decision-makers that there is a problem that we need to solve. Those key decision-makers can be anywhere – in a local authority, members of parliament, in a Government department or the big man himself in No.10 Downing Street.
How do I persuade them to do something about it? Campaigners use a variety of tools ranging from a quiet word in someone’s ear to arranging big noisy public rallies. One tool that I do a lot of work on is trying to empower our members to take action themselves so that people who are concerned about issues facing deaf children can speak together with a powerful loud voice that decision makers can’t ignore.
I’ll try to give more examples of our campaign work in future blog posts. But I’ll leave you with something that my friends sometimes joke about – that my job essentially is to be an “ANGRY DEAF PERSON!”, fuming at my desk over the problems facing deaf children, and grown-ups like me. It was meant as a joke but I think, like all good jokes, there does unfortunately appear to be an element of truth to it…
Next week, I’ll tell you about some exciting news about the BBC. In the meantime, got any questions? Or know of any local anger management classes? I’ll try and come back to any comments you have in a future posting.
Posted in General | Tagged: BBC, Campaigning, Campaigns, Deafness, Government | 1 Comment »