On Tuesday, Ellen Arthur, who is 15, became a hero to this website when she went to the Conservative Party conference along with the National Deaf Children’s Society (NDCS) to defend the rights of deaf children to good education.
While there, Ellen, who is profoundly deaf and has a cochlear implant in her left ear, spoke to a number of MPs to highlight the NDCS’s Stolen Futures campaign, which is aiming to stop councils cutting the vital services deaf children need.
Ellen (pictured above arriving at the conference) told us:
I’m Ellen, I’m 15. I am profoundly deaf in both ears and I have a cochlear implant in my left ear. I applied to join NDCS at the conference because I wanted to put my views across to the Minsters and MPs and make changes for the better for the future.
I thought it would be good for me to put my views and concerns across, especially around the Stolen Futures petition as the cuts affect so many deaf young people.
At the conference, I met lots of different MPs. I found out that Neil Carmichael MP is deaf in one ear too, which was interesting because he could relate to me and understand why we need specialist services. Peter Aldous said that he would look into the things that we discussed.
I met my local MP, Nicola Blackwood (above) and the new SEN minister Edward Timpson too (below). With all the MPs, we talked about Stolen Futures and encouraged them to sign the petition and tell everyone else! I told them about the support I receive in school.
I also went round the stands and got lots of freebies (pens, note pads, chocolate, memory stick, lip balm and wristbands!).
I have always thought MPs and Minsters were all boring and dull, however after meeting them they were more fun and very interested in what we want to do. After being there my views of MPs has changed and I hope their views around deaf children and young people and the cuts have changed for the better.”
We hope that Ellen’s visit to the conference was a timely reminder to the Conservative Party that deaf children matter. After all, the stakes couldn’t be higher. The NDCS estimate that a third of England’s councils will cut specialist support by March 2013.
Like lots of other deaf children, Ellen can’t hear well in various situations – for instance, if a person has their back turned to her or in a noisy environment. She sometimes finds school environment challenging, as she can’t follow what her teachers or classroom friends are saying.
Fortunately, she has a statement of special educational needs and gets specialist support from Teacher of the Deaf and a teaching assistant. They make sure that Ellen understands the lessons and monitor her progress.
With this extra support, Ellen is doing very well and feels fully included in school life. But what if that support was withdrawn? That’s why this site recommends you sign the NDCS petition, NOW. Just click on the link below.
NDCS believes deaf children are being set up to fail and is aiming to collect 100,000 signatures on their Government e-petition to force the Government to explain what they will do to protect services for deaf children. You can find the petition here: http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/34073.
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The Limping Chicken is the world's most popular Deaf blog, and is edited by Deaf journalist and filmmaker Charlie Swinbourne.
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