Making deaf children matter

Musings and blogs from a deaf campaigner

Posts Tagged ‘MPs’

Debating deaf children’s futures

Posted by Ian Noon on October 13, 2013

After 18 months of campaigning and 50,000+ petition signatures, MPs have agreed that concerns over cuts to funding to support for deaf children are so serious that Parliament should debate them.

Deafness is invariably described as the invisible disability. The needs of deaf children too often get overlooked. Well, not on Thursday. This isn’t going to be a debate in some poky committee room – it will be on the floor of the House of Commons. The needs of deaf children will take centre-stage and the Government will be forced to explain what exactly they are doing to make sure deaf children get the help they need. And the whole world can judge whether this is good enough. This is a big deal, ladies and gentlemen.

The debate is going to be an opportunity to shine a spotlight on the fact that help for deaf children is being cut across the country. The Government say they have protected funding for vulnerable learners yet this protection isn’t being carried through at a local level. 29% of local authorities are cutting services and another 25% are at risk, according to analysis from the National Deaf Children’s Society (NDCS).

You might take the Government’s point that this is a matter for local communities. But there’s only so much fire-fighting that parents can do without getting exhausted or neglecting their core job – being Mums and Dads to their deaf child. It’s time for the Government to take action to stop the fires starting in the first place.

There are different ways the Government can do this. It could intervene directly in some of the worse cases and name and shame council bosses that don’t protect funding for vulnerable learners. The Government seems quite happy to tell councils what to do about rubbish collections and council magazines after all.

It could also introduce stronger checks over councils. It could make Ofsted inspect specialist services for deaf children. It’s easy for councils to cut services if they don’t think there are going to be any serious consequences.

The debate is also going to be an opportunity to say that, well actually, before even all of these cuts, in many places the support deaf children were getting wasn’t good enough. Over two thirds of deaf children fail to get 5 good GCSEs. It’s an opportunity to debate openly the fact that:

  • Too many families aren’t getting enough support after their deaf child is born. Where they want to learn sign language, families sometimes have to pay thousands of pounds just to learn to communicate with their own child.
  • Too many deaf children don’t get the specialist support they need in the classroom. They have to learn in poky noisy classrooms without extra help and support.
  • Too many deaf young people don’t get the help they need to prepare for adulthood and independence.

My biggest fear is that the Government will, come Thursday’s debate, do as they’ve done before and just bat away concerns. They’ll point to tiny pots of money given for small projects – not unappreciated but not enough. They’ll point to new laws on special educational needs even though this doesn’t address the fundamental issues deaf children face.

This is why a big turnout from MPs is needed. The more MPs that turn up and say something must be done, the more likely the Government will actually do something substantial. So MPs need to know this debate is important. MPs need to hear from families and deaf people of the individual stories and challenges that deaf children face. MPs need to challenge the Government to do more, much more.

And hopefully then Thursday’s debate will be the start of a lasting change that makes a big difference to deaf children.

To ask your MP to come along on Thursday, you can email him / her via the NDCS website. For more information about the debate, you can also check out NDCS’s Stolen Futures campaign pages. You can email your MP via the

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Did your MP turn their back on deaf children?

Posted by Ian Noon on February 2, 2012

At the bottom of this blog is a depressingly long list of all the MPs who voted to cut benefits for deaf and other disabled children last night in the Welfare Reform Bill debate.

Here is a website where you can work out who your MP is if you’re not sure. Apparently, you can send a message to him/her from this website if you ever, say, had any reason to ask your MP why they turned their back on deaf children.

And finally, here is a list of all the MPs who signed the National Deaf Children’s Society election pledge in 2010. The pledge included a promise to “help deaf children in their constituency get the same opportunities as other children”.

Maria Miller, the Government Minister for Disability last night effectively described deafness as a “moderate” disability and encouraged MPs to make a political choice to cut benefits for deaf children in order to fund support for other more “severe” disabilities. If you think this is a twisted morality that ignores the impact of deafness on children, I strongly encourage you to email your MP is he/she was among those who voted for this. And if your MP also signed the election pledge, you could well ask why they’ve now broken their promises to help deaf children.

MPs who voted to cut benefits for deaf children:
Adams, Nigel
Afriyie, Adam
Aldous, Peter
Alexander, rh Danny
Amess, Mr David
Andrew, Stuart
Arbuthnot, rh Mr James
Bacon, Mr Richard
Baker, Norman
Baker, Steve
Baldry, Tony
Baldwin, Harriett
Barclay, Stephen
Barker, Gregory
Baron, Mr John
Barwell, Gavin
Bebb, Guto
Beith, rh Sir Alan
Benyon, Richard
Beresford, Sir Paul
Bingham, Andrew
Binley, Mr Brian
Birtwistle, Gordon
Blackman, Bob
Blackwood, Nicola
Blunt, Mr Crispin
Boles, Nick
Bone, Mr Peter
Bottomley, Sir Peter
Bradley, Karen
Brady, Mr Graham
Brake, rh Tom
Bray, Angie
Brazier, Mr Julian
Bridgen, Andrew
Brine, Steve
Brokenshire, James
Browne, Mr Jeremy
Bruce, Fiona
Bruce, rh Malcolm
Buckland, Mr Robert
Burley, Mr Aidan
Burns, Conor
Burns, rh Mr Simon
Burrowes, Mr David
Burstow, Paul
Burt, Lorely
Byles, Dan
Cable, rh Vince
Cairns, Alun
Campbell, rh Sir Menzies
Carmichael, rh Mr Alistair
Carmichael, Neil
Carswell, Mr Douglas
Cash, Mr William
Chishti, Rehman
Chope, Mr Christopher
Clappison, Mr James
Clark, rh Greg
Clarke, rh Mr Kenneth
Clegg, rh Mr Nick
Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey
Coffey, Dr Thérèse
Collins, Damian
Cox, Mr Geoffrey
Crabb, Stephen
Crockart, Mike
Crouch, Tracey
Davey, Mr Edward
Davies, David T. C.
(Monmouth)
Davies, Glyn
Davies, Philip
Davis, rh Mr David
de Bois, Nick
Dinenage, Caroline
Djanogly, Mr Jonathan
Dorrell, rh Mr Stephen
Dorries, Nadine
Doyle-Price, Jackie
Drax, Richard
Duddridge, James
Duncan, rh Mr Alan
Duncan Smith, rh Mr Iain
Dunne, Mr Philip
Ellis, Michael
Ellison, Jane
Ellwood, Mr Tobias
Elphicke, Charlie
Eustice, George
Evans, Graham
Evans, Jonathan
Evennett, Mr David
Fabricant, Michael
Farron, Tim
Featherstone, Lynne
Field, Mark
Foster, rh Mr Don
Fox, rh Dr Liam
Francois, rh Mr Mark
Freeman, George
Freer, Mike
Fullbrook, Lorraine
Fuller, Richard
Gale, Sir Roger
Garnier, Mr Edward
Garnier, Mark
Gauke, Mr David
Gibb, Mr Nick
Gilbert, Stephen
Gillan, rh Mrs Cheryl
Glen, John
Goldsmith, Zac
Goodwill, Mr Robert
Gove, rh Michael
Graham, Richard
Grant, Mrs Helen
Grayling, rh Chris
Green, Damian
Greening, rh Justine
Grieve, rh Mr Dominic
Griffiths, Andrew
Gummer, Ben
Gyimah, Mr Sam
Halfon, Robert
Hames, Duncan
Hammond, rh Mr Philip
Hammond, Stephen
Hancock, Matthew
Hancock, Mr Mike
Hands, Greg
Harper, Mr Mark
Harrington, Richard
Harris, Rebecca
Hart, Simon
Harvey, Nick
Haselhurst, rh Sir Alan
Hayes, Mr John
Heald, Oliver
Heath, Mr David
Heaton-Harris, Chris
Hemming, John
Henderson, Gordon
Hendry, Charles
Hinds, Damian
Hoban, Mr Mark
Hollingbery, George
Hollobone, Mr Philip
Holloway, Mr Adam
Horwood, Martin
Howell, John
Hughes, rh Simon
Huhne, rh Chris
Hunt, rh Mr Jeremy
Hunter, Mark
Huppert, Dr Julian
Hurd, Mr Nick
Jackson, Mr Stewart
James, Margot
Javid, Sajid
Jenkin, Mr Bernard
Johnson, Gareth
Johnson, Joseph
Jones, Andrew
Jones, Mr David
Jones, Mr Marcus
Kawczynski, Daniel
Kelly, Chris
Kirby, Simon
Knight, rh Mr Greg
Kwarteng, Kwasi
Laing, Mrs Eleanor
Lamb, Norman
Lancaster, Mark
Lansley, rh Mr Andrew
Latham, Pauline
Laws, rh Mr David
Lee, Jessica
Lee, Dr Phillip
Lefroy, Jeremy
Leigh, Mr Edward
Leslie, Charlotte
Letwin, rh Mr Oliver
Lewis, Brandon
Lewis, Dr Julian
Liddell-Grainger, Mr Ian
Lilley, rh Mr Peter
Lloyd, Stephen
Lord, Jonathan
Loughton, Tim
Luff, Peter
Lumley, Karen
Macleod, Mary
Main, Mrs Anne
May, rh Mrs Theresa
Maynard, Paul
McCartney, Karl
McIntosh, Miss Anne
McLoughlin, rh Mr Patrick
McPartland, Stephen
McVey, Esther
Mensch, Louise
Menzies, Mark
Mercer, Patrick
Metcalfe, Stephen
Miller, Maria
Milton, Anne
Mitchell, rh Mr Andrew
Mordaunt, Penny
Morgan, Nicky
Morris, Anne Marie
Morris, David
Morris, James
Mosley, Stephen
Mowat, David
Mulholland, Greg
Mundell, rh David
Munt, Tessa
Murray, Sheryll
Murrison, Dr Andrew
Neill, Robert
Newton, Sarah
Nokes, Caroline
Nuttall, Mr David
O’Brien, Mr Stephen
Offord, Mr Matthew
Ollerenshaw, Eric
Opperman, Guy
Ottaway, Richard
Paice, rh Mr James
Parish, Neil
Patel, Priti
Paterson, rh Mr Owen
Pawsey, Mark
Penning, Mike
Penrose, John
Percy, Andrew
Perry, Claire
Phillips, Stephen
Pickles, rh Mr Eric
Pincher, Christopher
Poulter, Dr Daniel
Prisk, Mr Mark
Pritchard, Mark
Pugh, John
Raab, Mr Dominic
Randall, rh Mr John
Reckless, Mark
Redwood, rh Mr John
Rees-Mogg, Jacob
Reevell, Simon
Reid, Mr Alan
Rifkind, rh Sir Malcolm
Robathan, rh Mr Andrew
Rogerson, Dan
Rosindell, Andrew
Rudd, Amber
Ruffley, Mr David
Russell, Sir Bob
Rutley, David
Sanders, Mr Adrian
Sandys, Laura
Scott, Mr Lee
Selous, Andrew
Shapps, rh Grant
Sharma, Alok
Shepherd, Mr Richard
Simmonds, Mark
Simpson, Mr Keith
Skidmore, Chris
Smith, Miss Chloe
Smith, Henry
Smith, Julian
Smith, Sir Robert
Soames, rh Nicholas
Soubry, Anna
Spelman, rh Mrs Caroline
Spencer, Mr Mark
Stephenson, Andrew
Stevenson, John
Stewart, Bob
Stewart, Iain
Stewart, Rory
Stride, Mel
Stuart, Mr Graham
Stunell, Andrew
Sturdy, Julian
Swales, Ian
Swayne, rh Mr Desmond
Swinson, Jo
Swire, rh Mr Hugo
Syms, Mr Robert
Tapsell, rh Sir Peter
Timpson, Mr Edward
Tomlinson, Justin
Tredinnick, David
Truss, Elizabeth
Turner, Mr Andrew
Uppal, Paul
Vaizey, Mr Edward
Vickers, Martin
Villiers, rh Mrs Theresa
Walker, Mr Charles
Walker, Mr Robin
Wallace, Mr Ben
Walter, Mr Robert
Watkinson, Angela
Weatherley, Mike
Webb, Steve
Wharton, James
Wheeler, Heather
White, Chris
Whittaker, Craig
Wiggin, Bill
Willetts, rh Mr David
Williams, Roger
Williams, Stephen
Williamson, Gavin
Willott, Jenny
Wilson, Mr Rob
Wollaston, Dr Sarah
Wright, Simon
Yeo, Mr Tim
Young, rh Sir George
Zahawi, Nadhim

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Campaigning for deaf children at the Lib Dem party conference: day 2

Posted by Ian Noon on September 22, 2010

On my 2nd and last day at the Liberal Democrat party conference, I managed not to get swept away by the Nick Clegg crowd. But I did make the mistake of going to a fringe meeting of the British Youth Council, where suited and booted amongst a group of Lib Dem young people, I felt around twenty years older than I actually am. Oh dear.

But yesterday was mostly spent meeting more MPs, Lords and Ladies to tell them about the National Deaf Children’s Society Hands up for help! campaign. Happily, everyone was keen to support. For each MP we met, we also provided detailed briefing notes about what NDCS’s survey of local authorities revealed about help for deaf children in their own area, which went down well. I picked up a keen desire to understand more about how the funding arrangements for help for deaf children work, and the implications of deafness being a relatively less common disability. We received lots of offers to write to local authorities and government ministers, and to raise questions within Parliament.

Sadly, I hadn’t managed to track down two of our key targets by the time I left, though my boss was still stalking them on the conference’s last evening. Very disappointing.

What has been interesting about this conference has been finding out how becoming a government coalition partner has changed the way many Lib Dem MPs work. When in opposition, there would be a group of three or four people acting as “shadow” ministers. But now instead, we have some Liberal Democrats who are Ministers and others who are acting as “spokespeople” within the party, providing a conduit from which specific backbenchers can express their views or concerns on specific issues. It rather changes the dynamics of how I might lobby various people.

Overall, it’s a been a full-on but enjoyable few days in Liverpool. Now the travelling circus moves on to Manchester for the Labour party conference weekend where my colleagues will be picking up the baton of campaigning for deaf children. Look forward to finding out how they got on.

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NDCS heads to party conferences to lobby for deaf children

Posted by Ian Noon on September 17, 2010

The travelling circus – AKA the party political conferences – are back. Off I go to Liverpool on Sunday for the Liberal Democrat party conference, lobbying MP and peers on deaf children on the National Deaf Children’s Society’s behalf.

Last year was a great success and Louis, deaf young person, did a great job of helping us win our acoustics campaign. This year, I’ll be mostly talking about the Hands up for help! campaign report and trying to get lots of support for this. I’m also planning to show MPs what parents of deaf children have been saying about services for deaf children in the different regions of the country. So if you’ve got anything you want to say about your own area, have your say on NDCS’s online interactive map and an MP might end up reading it.

And then after Liverpool, I will be handing over to my colleagues to do all the lobbying for the other two conferences. For the Conservative party conference, NDCS will be joined by Megan, a young deaf person, who is an absolute superstar, and who has her own blog. Looking forward to reading about how she enjoys meetings lots of MPs.

I’ll be blogging the latest from here, where I can, and NDCS will also be tweeting merrily away as @NDCS_UK on Twitter. Bring it on!

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Deaf Awareness Week in Parliament

Posted by Ian Noon on July 2, 2010

Image courtesy of NDCS

The NDCS/RNID parliamentary reception on Wednesday was a huge success. 57 MPs came, the deaf children, young people and adults were fantastic and the cakes were lovely.

I was in charge of making sure the deaf children and young people were fully involved, but I was barely needed. They were hugely confident and assertive in telling MPs about the importance of deaf awareness and what action they wanted MPs to take. They were so good and so confident, that it was a bit scary to be honest.

Lots of photos were taken which are now winging their way to local media across the UK. Hopefully, this will get the message about deaf awareness far and wide.

Overall, it’s been a great Deaf Awareness Week. Lots of NDCS supporters have been sending in their thoughts and tips, and we also took the opportunity to share these with MPs.

It’s a shame we have to wait a whole year now for the next Deaf Awareness Week, really…

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The calm before Deaf Awareness Week

Posted by Ian Noon on June 25, 2010

Next week is going to be all about me. And the other 8,999,999 people who are deaf or hard of hearing in the UK.

Yes, it’s Deaf Awareness Week and this year’s theme is “Look at me”. The idea is to talk about simple deaf awareness tips throughout the week – like facing deaf people when you talk. And, of course, by looking at deaf people, you can finally find out one way or another whether deafness really is an invisible disability.

I’ve been busy at the National Deaf Children’s Society gearing up for it. The main focus of our work is a parliamentary reception next week where deaf children and young people will be part of a group educating and testing MPs on their deaf awareness. NDCS is joining forces with RNID and the UK Council of Deafness for the event.

For NDCS, the whole thing is a follow-up from the NDCS election pledge work. 223 MPs committed to making deaf children matter. Now is their opportunity to find out how.

I’ll be blogging throughout Deaf Awareness Week about what’s going on, and NDCS will also be encouraging supporters to get involved. So watch this space.

In the meantime, what are you up to for Deaf Awareness Week? Leave a comment below to let us know.

PS You can also get the latest via the NDCS UK twitter account – so get tweeting!

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NDCS election pledge a big success

Posted by Ian Noon on May 11, 2010

Image courtesy of NDCS

Sad political geek that I am, I stayed up all night on Thursday to see the election results. If you think that’s bad, at the same time, I was ticking off the National Deaf Children’s Society (NDCS) list of politicians who had signed the NDCS election pledge for deaf children to see who got elected on the night.

Now with the benefit of sleep, I’ve been checking the list and coming up with a definitive number of politicians elected who’ve committed to supporting deaf children. And the final total is…. drum roll… 223!

NDCS’s initial target was around 50, my expectations have turned out to be way off. It’s a fantastic result, and all down to the thousand supporters who contacted their local candidates. It’s genuinely very pleasing, especially as it includes some big-hitters like Nick Clegg, the leader of the Lib Dems, and the education spokespeople from Labour, Conservative and Lib Dems (Ed Balls, Michael Gove and David Laws).

Of course, it’s only a means to an end. Any MP can sign a pledge, but what they need to do is step up and take action to make deaf children matter. But what it does mean is that a third of all MPs have at least promised to support deaf children. At the time of writing, we may not actually have a new Government just yet, but we do at least have that to hold onto. NDCS will now be working hard to make sure they keep their promises over the coming years.

Thanks again to everyone who took part and supported this campaign; it’s much appreciated and will make a big difference.

PS If you want to see if your MP signed the pledge, check the NDCS list.

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Urgent! Time running out to contact your election candidates

Posted by Ian Noon on April 29, 2010

Image courtsesy of NDCS

Well, in a week’s time, the UK will be going to the polls to decide who will form the next Government. It means that time is running out for you to help make deaf children matter during the election by asking your own local candidates to sign the National Deaf Children’s Society election pledge for deaf children.

And if you’ve already done it, now is good to remind them to sign it if they haven’t already. The NDCS pledge check page has a list of everyone who’s signed it thus far.

How to contact your local candidates? Click here, tell us where you live, click a few more times and bingo. NDCS works out who your candidates are and brings up a template message. Much easier to do than remembering to take off your microphone when having a private conversation about someone you’ve just met.

An update so far? Well, when I was first working on the pledge for NDCS, I thought maybe around 300 would sign it. 500 at a push. Well, so far, a whopping 839 have signed it. I’m amazed. The total includes 22 Cabinet or Shadow Cabinet Ministers, including the leads on education for each party. Over 120 Conservative candidates have signed it, even though the party traditionally tends not to sign election pledges. I’m doubly amazed.

Whilst this is fantastic, not all of these people will get elected to become MPs. Which is why it would be great to get the number up even higher in the next week to increase the chances of getting a good large bunch of MPs who know about deafness and are willing to take action to support deaf children. Given that deafness is a “invisible” disability and given the likelihood of big cuts to public spending, NDCS needs as much support as possible from MPs over the next five years.

So contact your local candidates now while they’re still running around the country desperate to get your vote.

Cheers!

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Vote for deaf children!

Posted by Ian Noon on April 8, 2010

As Gordon Brown put it, it wasn’t exactly a very well-kept secret, but we now know for sure that a general election will be taking place on the 6th May.

So how can we make deaf children matter during the election? Well, you can email your local candidates in your area.

The National Deaf Children’s Society (NDCS) has set up a “pledge for deaf children” and they want lots of local candidates to sign it to show their support. The website makes it quick and easy for you to email your candidates – as long as you know where you live, it can work out who your local candidates are.

The more candidates who sign it, the more likely we’ll have a large bunch of MPs in the next Parliament who know that supporting deaf children is really important. There’s a looming threat of spending cuts hanging over everything. But we also know deaf children are still under achieving at schools and are more likely to be bullied, abused and without a job when they grow up. So NDCS is going to need as much support as they can get.

I’ve just done it for my local candidates in south west London. There’s a hard fight going on to become MP for my seat so I’m hoping the local candidates will be keen to pay attention to my views on deafness if they hope to get my vote. Don’t tell anyone, but I’ve also done it for my previous address where I lived until very recently. Hee!

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Deaf students interrogate party leads on education

Posted by Ian Noon on January 21, 2010

It’s hard to read a newspaper these days without being reminded that this year there will be a UK general election, probably in May, and until then, I’m going to need to be very careful not to trip over any political dividing lines.

I’m with Winston Churchill when he said that “Democracy is the worse form of Government, except for all the others”. The general election is a big opportunity to hold politicians to account and tell them what our priorities are. And if you’re a parent of a deaf child or deaf yourself, chances are you're going to want to know what will be done to improve deaf children's life chances.

So with that in mind, the National Deaf Children's Society (NDCS) has recruited three young deaf students from Heston Community School in west London and given them a big mission: to come up with a list of questions on what they think are key issues for deaf children and young people, and to then take these questions to the key decision-makers in Westminster to get answers on what each party promises to do for deaf children.

Well, the students passed the mission with flying colours. Their questions ranged from funding of specialist equipment for deaf children, bullying, accessible transport and cinema subtitles. They also slipped in a question on how the MPs would celebrate if they won the general election. And over the past two weeks, they've been travelling over to Westminster to interview Diana Johnson (Labour Government Minister responsible for special educational needs), Michael Gove (Conservative Shadow Secretary of State for Children, School and Families) and David Laws (Liberal Democrat Shadow Secretary of State for Children, School and Families).

The fruits of their hard work will be appearing on the NDCS website and in the magazine in March, and you'll be able to see what each party is promising to do and see if that influences your vote. The students were also filmed in action by a TV crew, so hopefully we'll be seeing them on TV as well.

All very exciting and NDCS is very proud of the students.

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