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Helping Us Campaign in Northern Ireland

We want to make sure there is a powerful voice for change, demanding a fair deal for deaf children here. Our vision is to create a world without barriers for every deaf child - but we need your help.

All deaf children in Northern Ireland should be able to access the services they deserve - in health, education, transport and social care.

How you can help us

  • Share your experiences

  • Give your opinion on our work

  • Suggest issues you want us to tackle

Reform of Special Educational Needs (SEN) provision

Changes to the Special Educational Needs (SEN) system in Northern Ireland are on their way. We are campaigning for a better system for deaf children and young people.

There are around 1,500 deaf children and young people between the ages of 0 – 18 in Northern Ireland. Deafness in itself is not a learning disability. With the right support a deaf child can achieve like any other child. Yet in Northern Ireland there is a significant gap between deaf and hearing children.

The Special Educational Needs Act passed in early 2016. The Department of Education has consulted on Regulations and Code of Practice. Deaf children and young people and their families told us what they though of the new framework. Comments focused on:

- Eligibility and timescales

- The ‘Learning Support Coordinator’ role

- Individual Learning Plans

- Quantification and specification

- Quality of SEN services

- Annual review, appeals and mediation

Thanks to all the families who shared their insights with us. We used these to produce our response to the Department of Education, which you can find  here.

Paediatric Audiology

Paediatric Audiology services identify, diagnose and respond to deafness. When the service works well, children with hearing loss can develop good language and communication from the start. This is vital if they are to achieve their educational and social potential.

Audiology Quality Standards for adult services came in 2013. We expected that paediatric standards would soon follow. We worked with the Health & Social Care Board, audiologists and parents on draft Paediatric Standards. It has taken years, but they are finally here.

On 6 July 2021, we heard from the Minister that he has introduced quality standards. We will now work on monitoring, so that every deaf child in Northern Ireland can expect the same quality of service, no matter where they live.

Improving Education for Deaf Children

Every year, the Consortium for Research into Deaf Education (CRIDE) reports on specialist education for deaf children. A tailored report looks at services in Northern Ireland. You can find the reports for Northern Ireland, including the most recent report,  here.

Do Northern Ireland's schools sound good?

Education must be accessible for deaf children and young people in Northern Ireland. We want Northern Ireland's schools, nurseries and colleges to look good, and sound good as well. Noisy, echoing buildings create barriers to learning for all children, particularly deaf children. We want to see robust building regulations for new nurseries, school and colleges.

Northern Ireland schools are tested against the acoustic requirements in Building Bulletin 93. If schools fail, they must take remedial measures until they meet standards at a re-test. These adjustments or re-tests can be very expensive. It is vital that the acoustics of school builds are right from the beginning. Pre-completion testing can ensure this at the lowest cost.

We want the Northern Ireland Executive to:

  • Ensure that acoustic standards are met through compulsory pre-completion testing.

  • Extend the standards to cover all education settings, including nursery buildings.

  • Extend the standards to cover Further Education buildings.

We are advising that temporary changes to classrooms (for social distancing) must not affect deaf children’s learning.

A stronger voice through working together - The Coalition on Deafness

A partnership of organisations that represent deaf and hard of hearing people. Its aims are:

  • Promote the rights of people who are deaf, deafblind, have a hearing loss or tinnitus

  • Raise awareness of the exclusion faced by people who are deaf, deafblind, have a hearing loss or tinnitus, as a result of the barriers they encounter

  • Recommend actions to address those barriers

The Coalition launched its  Manifesto  at Stormont. The manifesto draws on internationally recognised rights for disabled people. Recent Coalition activity includes:

  • work with the Department of Communities on employment for young deaf people

  • action on facemasks in education and health settings.


Your stories:

"Being with NDCS Northern Ireland and receiving their support helped massively.

If you don’t ask for support then you can’t expand, facilitate and grow what you already can do."


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