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Listen to the Deaf

April 4 2010

And here’s some more sad news that has just come my way – in an angry statement from the NDCS (National Deaf Children’s Society)

‘In a debate on the Equality Bill in the House of Lords on 27th January, the Government refused to take action that would help ensure a fair and equitable exam system for disabled students. NDCS is deeply concerned that the current drafting of the Bill will allow exam bodies to discriminate against disabled students. Jo Campion, Head of Campaigns at NDCS, said

‘The Equality Bill was meant to remove all traces of discrimination in exams, but instead maintains a system which is unfairly loaded against disabled students. It now enables a range of unnecessary get-out clauses for exam bodies to avoid having to make exams genuinely accessible.

Government figures show that deaf children are already under achieving at school. These new laws will make it even harder for deaf children to get the qualifications they need to be independent and successful in life. Deaf students and their parents will be expressing anger and disappointment today that the Government has sided with exam bodies rather than disabled students. In 2005, the exams regulator withdrew support available to disabled candidates. NDCS successfully fought to get this support reinstated for deaf students, however NDCS continues to receive complaints from deaf students and parents highlighting that this support is not being provided.

NDCS is calling on the Government to urgently reconsider its position and ensure the Equality Bill provides genuine access to examinations for disabled students. Deaf students currently experience the following examples of discrimination; failure to provide written transcripts for video or radio recordings, failure to provide extra time to lip-read instructions and being asked questions which are inappropriate for a deaf young person to answer. For example, a deaf student was asked in an English exam to describe how it felt to be a fan of a music band. The examining body refused to accept that the question would disadvantage a student who has no experience of listening to music.’

The State is falling down on both counts – equality and fair play.