Making deaf children matter

Musings and blogs from a deaf campaigner

How many deaf children are there in England? The Government doesn’t know.

Posted by Ian Noon on October 21, 2008

How many deaf children are in the UK? Based on prevalence rates, NDCS estimates 35,000 though we suspect this is an under estimate. So we decided to see what figures the Government holds on how many deaf children there are in England. We did this by asking a MP, the very helpful Sandra Gidley, to table a parliamentary question, as a means of getting the Government’s official answer.

Which was that the data is not collected centrally.

When you think about it, it’s quite surprising that the Government does not even have a rough idea. Are they not at least measuring how many deaf babies are being identified as deaf through the newborn hearing screening programme? And then tagging on the numbers for how many come to audiology clinics after becoming deaf as a child. But I spoke with NDCS’s audiology expert and she told me that until recently the Government didn’t even know how many audiology clinics there were in the UK. It would be laughable if it didn’t have such major implications for deaf children. For example, how can the Government make sure it can plan workforce development if it doesn’t know how many deaf children are coming through the system? How does it know how many teachers of the deaf need to be in place across the country when all the children born today grow up? How does it know what likely demand for hearing aids and cochlear implants will be? How can it make sure that deaf children get the services they need? Does it just play it by chance?

It’s no way to support deaf children. And I find it quite depressing.

PS The Scottish Government doesn’t know how many deaf children there are in Scotland either. NDCS Scotland has been doing some campaign work around this up there…

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