The Guardian has published a letter from the CEO of the National Deaf Children’s Society, Susan Daniels, about the work that still needs to be done to help support D/deaf children.
The Labour MP Dawn Butler made an unprecedented contribution to parliament last week by asking a question in sign language (Why I stood up for British Sign Language in parliament, 17 March). Demonstrating so publicly that the views of deaf people should be represented in the Commons is a valuable act in itself.
However, the rights of deaf people do not simply start and end with a single signed question. Deaf children all too often fall behind their hearing peers in school because of insufficient support. Councils are cutting vital services that deaf children rely on. The government’s NHS reforms have left audiology services uninspected and unaccountable. And as Butler rightly points out, British Sign Language – an indigenous language that has been in use for centuries in this country – does not have its own legal status in Britain. So while it is an important step for deaf people to see BSL being adopted by our parliamentarians, it also shines a light on how much work lawmakers still have to do to support the deaf community in the UK.
CEO, National Deaf Children’s Society
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