My “Campaigning for Deaf Children” Christmas wish list

As a campaigner, what would I like Santa Claus to give deaf children for Christmas?

1) Greater focus on making sure deaf children start primary school on a level playing field with other children. The newborn screening programme is now over 5 years in and every child born deaf should be being diagnosed within the first few weeks of life. Late diagnosis was a major barrier, now removed. And deafness isn’t a learning disability. Yet government figures suggest little change in the early years attainment gap. So what’s going on? And what needs to change to close this gap? In my view, there’s lots of theories and lots of best practice suggestions but no concrete answers or explanation of why the gap isn’t closing. I’d like Santa to bring us closer to some solutions.

2) Local authorities stop picking on deaf children’s services for cuts. It’s a false economy; denying deaf children support the help they need now means a generation of deaf adults failing to achieve their potential and make a full contribution. It also means parents of deaf children will push for statements for special educational needs, and the legal entitlements this brings. NDCS’s Save Services for Deaf Children campaign has information on campaigning to protect services. There’s lots of ways councils can make savings without impacting on services: such as working with neighbouring council’s to share and pool resources. I’d like Santa to knock heads together in council offices. Or at least make sure they get no presents this year.

3) And something for the stocking. The BBC, ITV and other programme makers stop using live subtitles for pre-recorded programmes. Charlie Swinbourne’s blog explains the fury caused when the final of the Young Apprentice had subtitles out of sync with what was being said. “Technical problems” are often cited. More likely, the programme editors were too busy faffing about with last minute changes that there wasn’t enough time to prepare subtitles. This denial of access is just not on. I’d like Santa to say to whoever is responsible for these kind of “technical problems”: you’re fired.

It’s a pretty modest list of requests, I think. What else do you think we should ask Santa for?

Otherwise, all that remains is to wish everyone who reads my blog a very happy Christmas and prosperous 2012. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading the 2011 blogs and see you next year.


Celebrating Christmas and helping deaf children

Image courtesy of NDCS

Ahh. Christmas is coming. I know this to be true because Santa Claus has suddenly started appearing on my cans of coke.

And I see the National Deaf Children’s Society (NDCS) is getting into the spirit of things by launching a lovely new range of Christmas cards. I’m told they’re selling fast so if you want in, visit and take your pick.

NDCS is also launching a range of gifts that you can give for those who would rather know they’re making a difference, but who have already done the whole buying a goat thing. A gift of just £20 could provide a family with a starter bag of deaf-friendly toys and books to help them learn how to communicate.

And while I’m here plugging Christmas, get the 10th December, 7 to 8pm in the diary. NDCS is again returning to Trafalgar Square for the traditional signed Christmas carols and to spread some winter warmth.

95% of NDCS’s work is funded by charitable donations. This helps NDCS to, for example, campaign for deaf children. So you can help support this and celebrate Christmas at the same time, and all at

If anyone from the QVC channel is watching, I’m available to hire any weekday evenings.