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Cutbacks could harm deaf children's education in Hampshire

Cutbacks could harm deaf children's education in Hampshire

Published by Carol Musgrave at 6:00am 12th February 2019.

There is concern that proposed cutbacks in Hampshire to special education needs could impact negatively on deaf children in the county.

The National Deaf Children's Society says it is particularly worried about plans to reduce visits from specialists for children with mild or moderate hearing loss.

A consultation is underway into a proposal to change the county council's Specialist Teacher Advisory Service - which provides support for children who have hearing or visual impairments, physical disabilities or speech, language and communication needs.

The society says this would mean a reduction in suport visits for most deaf children, fewer trained staff and increased teacher case loads.

It says this will have a direct impact on the county's 1,162 deaf children, leaving them without "crucial support."

It goes on to say while visits for children with high levels of deafness would remain the same, it could mean delays in addressing issues with children's audiological equipment, such as hearing aids and radio aids.

It has called the proposals "completely unacceptable," warning that even mildly deaf children still fall behind at school and need expert support.

Eva Jolly, South East Regional Director at the National Deaf Children's Society, said:

"Deaf children already face enough barriers in the classroom, the playground and their everyday lives. These proposals now risk causing more stress and uncertainty for more than a thousand deaf children and their parents.

"These children rely on the support they receive, but it now risks being torn up in a matter of months. Their support could be cut, their technology could go unfixed and their grades could begin to suffer even more.

"Hampshire County Council must act now to quash these proposals and show families across the region that it will deliver for deaf children and their families. Every child deserves the same chance in life and deaf children are no exception."

Responding to the concerns, a spokersperson for Hampshire County Council said no decisions had yet been made, and that if the plans do go ahead, "appropriate support would continue to be provided for children who are deaf or whose hearing is impaired in any way.

"The consultation we are undertaking is part of a review of the Specialist Teacher Advisory Service. Our aim is to consider ways in which the Service could operate more effectively to deliver the support needed for all children and young people with special needs and disabilities.

"The challenge is to do so within the limited resources available to us - which is why the feedback from the consultation is so important to us."

 

 

 

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