Ways to take action
If you want to campaign on an issue related to deaf children or young people, try and to join forces with like-minded people who share your passion. You might already know people in your area who will support your campaign, but if you don’t, there’s loads of other ways to find supporters and collaborate with others.
Set up a petition on your local authority’s website. This is a good way to raise public and political awareness of your concerns, and to get others in your community to show their support.
In many local authorities, if a petition gathers over a certain number of signatures the council must respond to you, or have a debate on the issue.
Visit your local authority’s website to find out how to set up your e-petition.
You can also do things the old-fashioned way and set up a paper petition. Gather signatures in your local area and post or present the petition to your council or political representative.
When setting up a petition, it’s worth considering the number of signatures you think you might receive. Although it will do no harm, 20 signatures will probably not be that effective in actually changing the minds of decision-makers.
UK Parliament petitions can be created on their official website, and the Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly have their own dedicated webpages for submitting petitions. You can also launch petitions on 38degrees and Change.org.
When creating your petition, choose a good title which sums up your issue. Make sure the summary is clear and concise – state the problem, why it matters for deaf children, and what you want the council/government to do to solve it.
You can also use our petition writing template. Simply edit the text to suit your campaign issue.
In Stoke on Trent, where the council had decided to cut Teachers of the Deaf by 50%, a petition was set up which received over 600 signatures. This generated a lot of local media coverage for the issue and put pressure on the council to reverse their decision. We were then able to take legal action against the council, who made a significant U-turn on the cuts.
If cuts or changes to services are planned in your area, you can set up your own meeting for parents, supporters and others who are worried. Invite the key decision makers along, such as your local councillors or MP. Get in touch with us if you aren’t sure about how to coordinate the meeting - we may be able to provide materials and come along too.
Remember you are entitled to attend public meetings held by the council about decisions that affect services for deaf children. These meetings are often a good opportunity to find out more about the proposals and you may have the option of asking questions or delivering a petition. Check your local authority website for future meetings.
If you are campaigning on an issue that affects deaf children and young people, it could be worth getting in touch with your local political representative to get their support. If you get them on board, they will be able to raise the issue in parliament, with key ministers or locally with the council.
You can call, email or write to your political representative about your campaign. Visit your local authority website to find out who is your local councillor or head of a particular department, such as children’s services or education.
You can also meet MPs face-to-face at their local ‘surgery’ sessions.
Make sure you initially contact your own local representative as they can only respond to their own constituents. You can, however, ask your political representatives to contact ministers and party leaders.
When contacting a representative, be clear and concise, making your message personal. State the issue or problem, tell them how it’s affecting your child or family, and state exactly what course of action you want them to take.
If you aren’t sure who your local political representative is, you can find out by visiting They Work For You’s website.
A demonstration is a great way of amassing your supporters at an important location to voice your concerns –you can hopefully get the event covered by local media.
If you are campaigning against council cuts to a service for deaf children, you could organise a demonstration at the council building to put pressure on councillors to change their policy.
When organising a demonstration, remember:
- Although there is no legal requirement to notify the police of your demonstration, it is important that you do so that the police are not surprised by the demonstration or try to disrupt it.
- Have an aim in mind for the demonstration. Are you hoping to get media coverage, or perhaps lobby your local authority to change their minds on a decision?
- Ensure that the demonstration is peaceful and the campaign message is the main thing that people will take away from the event. Any unrest or illegal activity can seriously damage your cause.
- Please let us know if you are planning a demonstration as we may be able to provide support, either in the run up to the event or on the day itself.
- It’s worth speaking to the officials that you are trying to influence beforehand, as sometimes even the prospect of a demonstration may be enough to influence their decision-making.
- We recommend contacting your local media outlets about your demonstration. They are likely to be interested in attending and their coverage can help to spread the word about your campaign.
Spread the word about your campaign on social media platforms such as Facebook or Twitter. Alternatively, you can contact the campaigns team. We will help to promote your campaign through our social media accounts. We can also offer advice on how to get your campaign in the paper, on the radio or television.
If a proposal by a public body (e.g. a school or council) threatens to discriminate against a deaf child because of their disability - or does not provide adequate support for the child to achieve to the same level as a hearing child - you may be able to take legal action.
We have worked closely with solicitors on a number of legal disputes and can put you in contact with a solicitor for a consultation. This will often be free of charge as most children will qualify for legal aid.
Remember, it’s important to pursue legal action before a decision is made, as it’s much harder to reinstate a service once it has already gone.
If you want to discuss your campaign or get some advice, feel free to contact us.