Communicating with MPs about communication for deaf children

Image courtesy of http://www.corbisimages.com

Yesterday, I braved the freezing elements to get out of the office and head to Westminster for an All Party Parliamentary Group on Deafness meeting about communication. The Group is basically an informal bunch of MPs and peers who have an interest in deafness and want to advocate within Parliament for more support for deaf people. RNID and NDCS are both temporary custodians of the group for the year, and this was the first meeting in Parliament with us running things.

Happily, it all went very well, with a respectable turn out from MPs. On our side, NDCS Director of Policy and Campaigns spoke about the need for parents to have impartial information in order to make an informed choice about communication with their deaf child, and for the family to be given support from the local authority in learning how to communicate effectively within the family. Raena, an inspiring mother of a deaf son, followed this with a talk about her own experiences and challenges, and her determination to make sure her son was fully included within the family, with the whole family committing to learning sign language. Hopefully, MPs left with a strong message that it can’t be ethical to leave families to their own devices when learning how to communicate with their own child.

Sadly, the message on impartial information and informed choice was lost on some members of the audience with one person strongly advocating for an oral approach and another for sign language and a range of views being expressed between them which caused a sharp intake of breath in me. I’m always surprised that some people seem to think that one approach is going to work for every deaf child, which cannot possibly be in the child’s best interests. Still, if one good thing came out of the exchange, being exposed to two opposite extreme views always leave me feeling quite reassured that I must be right if I completely disagree with both.

You can read more about the meeting, and one of the speeches, on the NDCS website. Am looking forward to the next meeting already.

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3 thoughts on “Communicating with MPs about communication for deaf children

  1. Nice to know that there are ongoing discussions in Westminster regarding deaf issues, even if views are coming from totally different points of the spectrum!! I particularly liked your closing comment about how being exposed to these opposing views ultimately left you feeling reassured.
    I would be interested to know if there were any deaf people present, and whether there was a BSL or other form of interpreter available for this discussion? Keep up the good work..
    Richard

  2. Hi Ian
    Many apologies, my comment to your article was written after just viewing aforesaid article, so did not realise you were deaf.
    After reading it, I then clicked onto your home page and realised what a burk I was for not having the comlplete picture!!
    I like to keep abreast of deaf issues, and use google to find them for me, so will look forward to no doubt receiving more of your excellent posts in the future.
    regards
    Richard

  3. Hi,

    Yes, there were a few deaf people present, aside from myself. A palantypist and BSL interpreter was provided.

    Cheers,

    Ian

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