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Using radio aids at home

Published Date: 30 Jun 2020
Photo: Whilst many families have been able to take radio aids home at this time, it’s clear that this is not universal.

The last few months have brought huge challenges for many parents getting to grips with supporting their child’s learning at home.

One of the most frustrating aspects around this for us has been hearing from families that their child has not been allowed to take home from school their radio aid. Radio aids could help many deaf children communicate more easily with family members at home. By connecting their radio aids with their computers or tablets, it could also help them access sound in any online learning and also to connect virtually to wider family members and friends.

Whilst many families have been able to take radio aids home at this time, it’s clear that this is not universal. At a time when many deaf children are already struggling, it’s disappointing that, in some areas, this technology is being locked away in cupboards, rather than being used by families in the home to support home learning and wellbeing.

There is still lots of uncertainty over how schools will re-open over the next few months but it’s possible there may be a mix of onsite and home learning in some parts of the country. This means that being able to use radio aids at home is likely to continue to be important for some time.

If you think your child would benefit from being able to use a radio aid at home, you should first talk to your child’s Teacher of the Deaf, their education setting or someone in the local authority. There may be good reasons for why it’s not possible or sensible to have a radio aid at home. But by having an open discussion, you can discuss possible ways around this. Whilst the coronavirus pandemic has up-ended a lot of our usual ways of working, our expectation is that schools and local authorities should work flexibly and pragmatically with families to troubleshoot any specific concerns.

One issue that comes up a lot is around insurance. Some local authorities believe that radio aids must be insured by the family before they can be used in the home. Whilst it’s understandable that local authorities and schools want to be reassured that radio aids will be looked after at home, we don’t believe it’s right that home insurance should be a requirement. We also know there are plenty of examples of local authorities that have been able to cover the cost of insurance of radio aids for use at home. There are also new bespoke insurance options for local authorities and education settings.

If the answer is still no, the next step is to consider making a complaint to the local authority. Under the Equality Act (which applies in England, Scotland and Wales), your child has the right to expect equipment like radio aids to be made available to them as reasonable adjustments to support their learning.

In addition, if your child has an statutory statement or plan for their special or additional needs, you could also make a request for a radio aid in any discussions or reviews around your child’s plan or statement.

Our campaigns toolkit includes template letters that you can use to contact your local authority about this, whilst our website also has lots more information about your education rights. You can also get in touch with our helpline if you’d like any information or any help from our casework team in making a complaint or taking further action.