Our last day of Deaf Awareness Week and DEX are supporting politics #DAWrolemodels2019
DEX is a deaf user-led organisation which believes is the only deaf led organisation that supports all deaf children with all levels of deafness and fully understands the needs of deaf children in mainstream schools. This is because of our personal experiences and our research studies as we are aware of the impact that mainstreaming has on deaf children’s education and the rest of deaf childrens’ lives.
DEX’s fundamental aim is to campaign for a national sign bilingual framework to ensure that all deaf children, regardless of level of hearing loss, have access to their school curriculum in resourced mainstream schools or Deaf schools. This should include bilingualism in English / British Sign Language, or multilingualism i.e. Welsh, Urdu, and English and BSL; access to a deaf peer group in significant numbers and never to be placed without deaf peers in mainstream school. This will enable each deaf child to feel part of their school culture, as well as giving them the opportunity to develop a positive deaf identity.
DEX has conducted its own Best Value Review audit and feasibility study, in addition to mapping and service delivery. We have involved deaf children, parents and a wide range of service providers in government organisations, i.e. DfE, Ofsted, councils and have also read extensively for our literature reviews, and visited other countries to compare (as required in Best Value Reviews). We also work with deaf young people to run their own affairs and develop their deaf identities – the DEX Deaf Youth Council. This includes a wide range of opportunities to learn and socialise, and we are establishing more groups in other areas.
Because of this, we know that deaf children in education do not receive adequate specialist support to enable them to progress on the same level as hearing children, and that they can be socially excluded. We know existing UK law is not meeting the needs of most deaf children by not providing, for example, freedom of association and expression, well-being, a happy and safe childhood and access to a fluent language.
There is much research into the benefits for bilinguals regardless of the languages they use. DEX has looked at some of this research as part of its own research studies. We know bilinguals are freer from the limits of one single language; a good knowledge of two languages and cultures; have more empathy as are better communicators; are problem solvers and flexible thinkers; can learn more languages more easily and finally, have better employment and social opportunities. This is compelling evidence to show that there is absolutely no reason why deaf children should not be bilingual. Furthermore, DEX’s recent research into threatened languages (2014) has shown that the numbers of deaf children learning BSL is falling and thus our language is severely endangered. Legislation to urgently required to implement change for deaf children and young people and to save BSL and the deaf community.