Deaf teenagers’ petition calls for awareness training for teachers

A petition created by deaf young people to improve deaf awareness and classroom support has attracted over 40,000 signatures in a week.

The group, aged between 13 and 19, created the petition on Monday (March 28th) to voice concerns over the number of mainstream teachers who currently don’t feel they know how to educate deaf children.

Hosted on Change.org, it has now passed 40,000 signatures and continues to rise rapidly.

Recent research from the National Deaf Children’s Society showed that two thirds (68%) of teachers say they don’t know how to educate a deaf child, while almost 9 in 10 (86%) feel their Initial Teacher Training didn’t provide them with enough information to meet deaf children’s needs.

In response, all 18 members of the National Deaf Children’s Society’s Young People’s Advisory Board (YAB) are urging the Government to give teachers the knowledge and training they need to support deaf children.

They’re specifically calling on Robin Walker, Minister for School Standards, and the Department for Education to provide all teachers with deaf awareness training, which would give them the skills they need to meet deaf children’s needs and call in specialist support when they need it.

The petition says that deaf children are “missing out” and that many feel “isolated and lonely in class” as a result.

Four in five deaf children (78%) attend a mainstream school without specialist facilities and most teachers will have a deaf child in their classroom during their career.

There are currently around 33,000 deaf children in England’s schools alone and they currently achieve less than hearing children at every stage of school, including an entire grade lower at GCSE on average.

One of the petitions creators, Polly, 17, said:

“We created this petition because we had all had experiences of poor deaf awareness in the classroom. If this was common in a group of 18 deaf young people, how many deaf pupils are suffering when you scale this figure up to the rest of the UK? Too many.

“If teachers were more deaf aware, not only would there be academic benefits, there would also be huge benefits to the mental health of deaf young people.”

Rosie Eggleston, Participation Manager at National Deaf Children’s Society said: 

“By creating this petition, deaf young people are clearly saying they’ve been affected by this issue, lived that experience and want to make positive change. It’s a brave step and we want their crucial message to reach as many people as possible, making it impossible to ignore.

“No child should have to feel isolated and lonely at school, let alone find themselves in a classroom where their teacher can’t meet their needs. If the Government is serious about giving every child a superb education, it’s time for real change and thousands of people have already signed to show their support.

“Education is a right, not a privilege, and this doesn’t change because you’re deaf.”

The petition is available at https://www.change.org/p/introduce-compulsory-deaf-awareness-training-for-all-teachers.

The National Deaf Children’s Society is the leading charity dedicated to creating a world without barriers for deaf children and their families. For more information about their work, visit www.ndcs.org.uk.

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