DEX conducted a Feasibility Study from 2004 – 2005 and the findings are in “Handing on our Experience: Deaf participation with deaf young people and their families”. This report is available from DEX or the Forest Bookshop (www.forestbooks.co.uk)
From this study we found that deaf young people, particularly those in their local mainstream schools, are a hard-to-reach group. We believe this is because of the lack of opportunities for deaf children and young people to meet deaf peers and adults, which results in think-hearing identity. Although hearing people tend to think this is a positive attribute in terms of being able to integrate in the hearing communities, at the same time it can prevent deaf children from receiving appropriate services to meet their needs during childhood and into adult life. It can also result in mental health problems, reinforced in our literature review during the Best Value Review project.
During the study DEX set up a Deaf Youth Forum and also interviewed deaf young people, who told us that they want deaf adults to support them with:
- lifelong learning
- information about age-related issues
- advocacy (for bullying etc)
- meeting deaf peers
- learning about themselves.
Hearing parents of deaf children were also contacted, by a questionnaire, and 74% of the respondents said that they want direct training and contact from Deaf professionals. This was because they wanted to learn from our experience and knowledge.
The age of the deaf child did not matter to them, as they wanted more relevant information at any age.
All wanted to know more about Deaf culture and BSL, deaf education and expectations. Parents told us that their deaf children had a wide range of hearing losses, and the majority of respondents’ children had a moderate hearing loss.
Look on the Parents’ Deaf Equality training page for more information about how to support parents of deaf children.