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Monday, 05 September 2016

Charity in call to improve support for deaf children and families in Scotland

Written by The Press Association

A new report is calling on the Scottish Government and its partners to improve the standards of early years support for deaf children and their families.

The report titled, Getting It Right From The Start: Improving Early Years Support For Deaf Children In Scotland was issued by the National Deaf Children's Society (NDCS) on Monday.

The report outlines issues faced by deaf children and makes a number of recommendations including continued investment into specialist services and Scottish Government endorsed guidance along with a strong commitment to young deaf people.

The launch of the report coincides with a week of activities at the Scottish Parliament to raise awareness of the issues and encourage action to take place.

Katie Rafferty, policy and campaigns manager with NDCS Scotland said: "The National Deaf Children's Society is calling for continued investment into crucial services for deaf children and for a consistent multi-sector approach to delivering early years support for deaf children to create equity across Scotland and ensure every child gets the support they need.

"Only by working together, and empowering families, can we ensure that every deaf child is given the best start in life and accesses the opportunities they need to reach their full potential."

The report argues that early years is a crucial time in any child's development, and for deaf children there are a number of barriers which can delay this development which can have a "significant impact" on attainment and life outcomes.

The NDCS says that there has been "good progress" made in Scotland, particularly around the British Sign Language (Scotland) Act 2015, however an "unacceptable" attainment gap still exists for deaf children and more needs to be done to ensure that every deaf child in the country gets the support they need to succeed.

Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Education John Swinney said: "I am absolutely clear that my focus remains on closing the attainment gap.

"This means providing all of Scotland's young people with the same opportunities and an equal chance to succeed, regardless of circumstance.

"Education authorities have a duty to identify, provide for and review the additional support needs of their pupils.

"In addition to this, work is already underway to implement the recommendations of the Scottish Parliament's Education Committee to support improved attainment for pupils who have a sensory impairment.

"This report highlights a lot of the good work already being done to support deaf children, however we know we can do more.

"The valuable work of NDCS supports hundreds of deaf children and their families throughout Scotland and we will consider their recommendations carefully to identify areas where we can make a practical difference to families with a deaf child."

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