Deaf athlete’s torch message
9:12am Thursday 30th August 2012 in Wharfedale News: By Annette McIntyre
Serena Blackburn An inspirational athlete who campaigns for better education for deaf children had the honour of carrying the Paralympic torch in front of thousands of people lining the streets of London yesterday.
And as Serena Blackburn proudly held the flame aloft outside St Paul’s Cathedral, she had a simple message for youngsters everywhere – anyone can achieve their dream.
Serena, originally from Horsforth but now living in Otley, was born deaf but went on to achieve her own dream, winning a bronze medal in the deaf Olympics three years ago aged 43.
And yesterday she step-ped back into the limelight for the historic occasion, which she described as “brilliant”, braving torren-tial downpours along the way.
In an exclusive interview, she said: “It was a fantastic experience.
“There was heavy rain, but there were large crowds cheering me on.”
The marathon runner and grandmother, who won her bronze medal in Taiwan, described her fellow torchbearers as “like a small family”.
She added: “I am finding the whole experience amazing. I am the only deaf person here in the group.”
Her place in the relay was the culmination of years of dedication to her sport and to the deaf children she works with.
“Dedication and a balance to achieve a running career are very important. It is never too late to achieve your dreams,” she said.
Serena, who still runs for the Horsforth Harriers, described her part in the relay as a “fantastic, once in a lifetime experience.”
As well as making a name for herself in the world of running Serena has campaigned for improvements to education for deaf children and has been described as a “brilliant mentor” for the youngsters she works with.
Thousands lined the streets to see the flame carried by Serena and other torchbearers on a 24-hour relay from Stoke Mandeville in Aylesbury to the Olympic Park in London. Among those watching was Serena’s partner Phil McGeever.
Sebastian Coe, Chair of LOCOG, said of the Torchbearers: ‘Each and every one of them has achieved something remarkable and they all demonstrate the Paralympic values of courage, determination, inspiration and equality.’ Sir Philip Craven, International Paralympic Committee, President, said: ‘It was fitting that the four national flames were brought together to create the Paralympic Flame at Stoke Mandeville, the birthplace of the Paralympic Movement. The Torch Relay will further raise awareness levels of the Paralympic Games to new levels, whilst also recognising and celebrating the roots and history of the Paralympic Movement.’ Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport, said: “The talent, commitment and inspiration of the Torchbearers, and ParalympicsGB, reminds us all what can be achieved when we focus on what people can do, rather than what they can’t. I know the whole country will be backing ParalympicsGB throughout the next 10 days of world-class sport.’
>DEXperience News Update
ON 1 August, John Hay, Chair of Deaf History International, Trustee of the British Deaf History Society and in his role as Senior Lecturer at the University of Wolverhampton, gave a joint presentation with Jill Jones, Company Secretary of DEXperience. This was at Leeds Trinity University's Disability and the Victorians conference, on The Reflection on the Legacies of the Milan Conference 1880.
This paper addresses how a decision made by hearing professionals one hundred and thirty years ago has impacted on the acquisition by deaf children of British Sign Language, to such an extent it is becoming an endangered language.
The International Congress on Education of the Deaf (ICED) in 1880 agreed to ban sign languages in education, followed by a Royal Commission in the UK: Blind, Deaf and Dumb and Others 1889. This reinforced the Government’s intention to ban sign language in the education of deaf children in the UK.
Burgeoning research on technology was embraced with vigour by educationalists as free hearing aids were issued in 1951. This was followed by the establishment of Partially Hearing Units (PHUs) in state mainstream schools, as severely deaf children were singled out from those with milder losses, with some successes.
The Lewis Report into the use of fingerspelling and Sign Supported English, with research into sign languages in 1980s, gave some momentum to BSL being used in Deaf schools and PHUs.
Cochlear and titanium implantation in 1990s supported the phasing of deaf children into units, with a final push to integrate deaf children into the whole school curriculum. This was followed by the gradual closure of special Deaf schools, and introduction of deaf children with complex needs to those remaining.
The Deaf Ex-Mainstreamers Group’s deaf user-led Best Value Review took place in early 2000s, identifying the effects of normalisation on lifelong education and the wellbeing of deaf children.
The Second International Congress of Education of Deaf made a counter-statement in 2010, with an apology for the 1880 statement.
Mickey Fellowes, ex-Director of DEX, was married to Judith on a beach in Scotland on 21 June 2012. They had a celebration of their marriage on 28 July in Alderley Edge in Stockport where this photo was taken. We never fail to appreciate his support in the early stages of DEX’s development.
Hello Everyone and here is a summary of our activities since Summer 2011. We welcome your interest and involvement …. You can contact us through this website or post a comment on our facebook page (link on right)
We have continued corresponding with Sarah Teather, Minister for Children and Families, regarding our Framework for Action (FFA). DEX has also written to Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Education, in connection with his statement that he will “pull levers” to ensure that all children learn a modern foreign language (MFL) from the age of 5 years, citing the benefits of bilingualism. DEX has stated that this should also apply to deaf children, to be bilingual in English and BSL and maybe a MFL. The Prime Minister replied to our letter concerning his support for BSL and, in a subsequent letter, states that the Equality Act 2010 covers all deaf children’s needs. DEXperience’s view is that the number of users needs to increase substantially and the quality of BSL used in education needs to rise, and this is not addressed in the Equality Act.
The I-Sign project final recommendation report has 3 recommendations, broadly in line with DEX’s FFA. DEX is involved in discussions about future activity with the DfE, both to reinforce the I-Sign report and to say we want to be actively involved in strategic planning.
Jill Jones and John Hay, Deaf History Society, will give a joint talk at the Disability and the Victorians Conference at Leeds Trinity University College in July this year.
Institute of BSL
DEX is a representative Director on the Institute of BSL (IBSL). Ofqual (the Office of the Regulator for Qualifications, Examinations and Assessments in England) has approved IBSL’s work. Developments at IBSL include filming DVDs aimed at BSL teachers in understanding the examination procedures are to be completed shortly. The BDA has also asked IBSL to be the examining body for their BSL courses developed via the I-Sign project.
BSL Act (Scotland)
Jill has met Mark Griffin, Member of Scottish Parliament, to explain the need for comprehensive language plan, including all deaf children to learn BSL as a subject, and about the proposals by the Bill’s Working Group on enforcement. Mark Griffin stated that he wants to see a UK-wide Act, and that their suggestion is for free parents’ courses. With respect to enactment, the Group’s recommendation is that a Scottish Parliament Minister (such as the Public Health Minister) would be responsible for the Act, and for making sure that all public authorities produce Action Plans on BSL development. There will be another three month’s public consultation, as the Bill has been changed by the Scottish Parliamentary Non-Executive Bills Unit since Cathie Craigie has left her seat.
BSL Act (UK)
Jill has met Malcolm Bruce, MP, in his capacity as Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Deafness (APPG) to discuss how to bring an Act of parliament to Westminster again. Other members of the APPG attended this meeting.
It has now been agreed that the issue of parents of hard of hearing children not being informed about the benefits of bilingualism will be taken to the Leeds Equality Hub Representatives meeting with Leeds City Council Senior Management Team. DEX will attend to support the reps from the Leeds Disability Equality Hub’s BSL Sub-Group and we also plan to meet with elected member responsible for Children’s policy.
The BDA’s Symposium in March agreed form a BSL Alliance with other deaf organisations, and DEX is meeting the BDA to plan strategy. We shall continue to have further discussions with the BDA about joint working to improve education for deaf children and hope to reach agreement shortly.
Wakefield Young Lives is putting together a Heritage Lottery project, and is interested in DEX being involved to facilitate Deaf History for deaf young people in Wakefield. There gave been discussions with Wakefield MD Council for individually mainstreamed deaf young people to come together for a small Participation project. DEXperience Directors agreed to both projects in principle, particularly since there was a lot of interest in deaf children at a recent fundraising event in Wakefield.
NATIONAL NEWS :
Consortium for Research into Deaf Education (CRIDE) Survey 2011 – main findings:
There at least 34,927 deaf children in England.
• Around 19% have some form of additional special educational need (SEN).
• Around 6% of deaf children have at least one cochlear implant.
• 15% of deaf children communicate in part using a spoken language other than English.
9% use sign language to some extent to communicate.
• 81% of school aged children are in mainstream settings (of which 8% are in mainstream
schools with resource provision).
• 6% attend special schools for deaf children or independent schools.
• 12% attend other special schools.
• Around 75% of deaf children identified by CRIDE do not have a statement of SEN
. 30% of services have seen a decrease in their non-staffing budget in the past year.
• 20% report that their eligibility criteria and/or overall quality of service has worsened.
Responses were received from 130 services in England, covering 148 local authority areas. No response was received at all from 4 services; a response rate of 97%. Whilst this response rate appears high, not all services consistently gave responses to all the questions. As such, the results should be used with caution.