Thousands sign petition for deaf children

Campaigners against deep cuts to services for deaf children have secured a full council debate after thousands of people signed a petition.

Kirklees Deaf Children’s Society had to collect 3,000 signatures to ensure the controversial issue is debated by all councillors.

Now they are gearing up for a showdown with Kirklees Council when it meets on September 12 
to discuss moves to cut the number of teachers of the deaf by a third.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

The National Deaf Children’s Society claims reducing the number of posts will leave more than 200 deaf children “to struggle alone at school” with less support from specialists who give them key outreach help to develop speech and language skills.

The society’s regional director, Alison Lawson, said: “The support for the petition in Kirklees shows how strongly local people feel about services that are being taken away from deaf children and we are keen to discuss this at the council meeting.

“Deaf children need more support not less. Under these proposed cuts the needs of hundreds of deaf children will be ignored and they will be left to struggle alone, and we fear their health and emotional wellbeing, as well as their education will suffer.”

More than 4,000 people have signed the petition against the cuts.

A Kirklees Council spokesman said: “The support and teaching for children with a hearing impairment has always been of a high standard in Kirklees, and this will continue to be the case.

“The number of teachers of the deaf is being reduced because demand for specialist provision places has fallen considerably.

“This will not impact on our commitment to maintain outreach support to pre-school children and those in mainstream schools. The new system will offer an appropriate level of support and will mean that specialist services are more balanced across Kirklees, reflecting the needs of local children.”