My colleague Jenny caught me talking to myself the other day. I simply reminded her about the importance of internal communications in our office. And in the best spirit of internal communication, I am going to interview myself in this blog. I think I’m sitting comfortably, so here we go.
Hello! Do you have 5 minutes to sign a petition?
God, not another pointless pontificating petition for socialist eco-warrior peaceniks to sign…
No, no, no – this is a petition to help save services for deaf children. 1 in 4 councils are cutting vital services for deaf children like Teachers of the Deaf, communication support workers, audiologists, social workers, speech and language therapists. NDCS’s Stolen Futures report sets out the full scale of cuts across England.
Yeah, yeah, all very sad, boo hoo, but cuts are taking place everywhere, innit?
Yeah, but are things really so bad that we have to start cutting help for deaf children, some of the most vulnerable children in society. To force deaf children to sit in classrooms missing what’s being said and falling further and further behind because their Teacher of the Deaf isn’t able to come in anymore? Is that how we think we should treat deaf children?
Er, yes, that’s bad but…
Hang on dear, there’s more. Imagine you’re a Mum who’s just found out that your child is deaf. You know nothing about deafness. 9 out of 10 parents don’t. You need someone to explain what deafness is, how you can teach your child to develop language and communication, and help you navigate all the other services out there. You need someone to give you hope.
Yeah, OK, it’s pretty immoral and something needs to be done, but a petition, yeah? Hardly going to change the world…
But if this petition gets 100,000 signatures, Parliament will hold a debate on the petition.
A debate? Snooze… I thought we were trying to stop the cuts? How is a debate going to change things?
A debate is still a big deal. Very few petitions hit the 100,000 mark so those that do get noticed. Government Ministers will have to explain themselves in front of everyone and answer some tough searching questions about what’s happening to deaf kids. Even if nothing happens immediately, it’s going to put them under huge amounts of pressure to do something. Plus, it will send a really strong signal that people care about deaf children. That people think the Government and councils should have some basic decency and not abandon deaf children.
But what’s the point of asking Westminster to do anything? The local councils are the bad guys right? Why can’t you just keep fighting them locally like you’ve been doing already? Take them to court and flog ‘em?
True, dat. It is the councils making cuts. But the Government holds the big purse strings. And they have real powers of direction over councils. There’s 152 councils in England. As much as they would like to and as much as they can try to, organisations like NDCS can’t fight the local cuts everywhere. Central Government can, should and needs to intervene.
100,000 signatures though? Impossible. Do you want me to raise the Titanic while I’m at it?
Impossible? It’s said that everyone in the world is connected through six people. Around 500 people read my last blog last week. You all have friends, right? You also have colleagues, social groups that you’re involved in? If you sign it, then get 10 people to sign the petition and then they too get 10 people to sign it, we’re half way there already.
And I suppose when you get to halfway other people will start to notice and say to themselves, actually yeah, this is a pretty appalling way to treat some of the most vulnerable children in society.
Absolutely. Aren’t you a clever clogs. And think what a signal it would send if the needs of deaf children reach the top of the agenda. Councils and Government would seriously think twice about ever doing anything to mess with people who care about deaf children and other disabled children.
Alright then, I’ll sign the bloody thing. Er, and how do I do that?
Easy. Go to this website. Add your details. Click send. Then wait for an email to confirm you’re not some lunatic spambot and click on the link in the email. And you’re done. Then email everyone you know and get them all fired up. Sorted.
I’ll do my best. I’m still just 1 person though. Can I really make a difference?
Yes. If enough people take small steps to stand up to an injustice, big things can happen.
Deaf children are some of the most vulnerable children in society. If we don’t stand up for their rights and stop the cuts, then who will?
Ian Noon has been profoundly deaf since birth, giving him an interesting perspective “on what needs to change for deaf children and young people in the UK. It also means I have very questionable taste in music.” When he’s not stealing the biscuits in the office, he runs, does yoga and plans his next backpacking holiday. He works for a deaf charity but his views expressed on his blog and here, are his own.
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