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.