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Parliament: Lipreading & Sign Language are not skills for life

It seems that politicians are experts at not getting it. The latest from the House of Commons is that lipreading classes and learning sign language is not a skill for life. This obviously comes down to funding, not being classed as a 'basic skill' affects how a course is funded. Deaf people in other words have to pay.

Jamie Reed (PPS (Mr Tony McNulty, Minister of State), Home Office, Copeland, Labour)

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if he will classify the teaching of lip reading and sign language as a basic skill for those with impaired hearing.

Parmjit Dhanda (Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Education and Skills)

We recognise the importance of lip reading and sign language for the deaf and hard of hearing. Lip reading and sign language are eligible for LSC funding but do not form part of the Government's "Skills for Life" definition of provision commonly referred to as 'basic skills' as they are not mapped to the national literacy and numeracy standards.

The majority of the cost of learning is supported by public funds, but the learner is also expected to contribute to the cost unless certain conditions apply: for example, learners on income-related benefits are eligible for fee remission, as are learners aged 16 to 18 years; and individual providers may choose to waive a full fee or charge a reduced fee. Some providers also have 'access funds' that they are able to make available to individuals to help with the costs of a course. In 2004/05 lip reading classes were free to more than 80 per cent. of learners either as a result of national policy or at the discretion of the provider.

This is obviously a strict and narrow definition, and who said that access to communication cannot be literacy? They are basic skills to survive in life, no? From a BSL recognition viewpoint this is an interesting one. Had the language been Welsh, there would be a right to call this a basic skill, because Welsh is on par with the English language here. The BSL recognition we have in the UK is nothing short of tokenistic bullshit.

Source: Hansard, They Work for You

Update in Plain English: In the UK English and Maths courses in adult education are free. The government classes them as essential or basic skills. The question above, asked if lipreading classes or BSL classes could be an essential or a 'skill for life' / basic skill for deaf people, and thus free. Parliament said no, it is not a basic skill or a life skill for deaf people. Deaf people are expected to pay for course costs. In Wales, Welsh language courses are a basic skill, because of the status of the language. i.e. Welsh courses in Wales are free. We don't have the same language status for BSL, so can't apply the same reasoning. Why this is, is another story.

Comments (7)

That's absolute insanity. What is a basic life skill if not language? What's more basic than that? If not lip-reading and signing, then how on Earth are Deaf people supposed to interface with the world beyond themselves?

Amazing. Utterly amazing.

For fuck sake... Sorry I have to swear on this blog...

From website it says
"Skills for Life is the national strategy for improving adult literacy and numeracy in England. The government has invested £1.6 billion from April 2003-March 2006 with the target of helping 1.5 million adults improve their skills by 2007"

It goes on to say

"Skills for Life is the national strategy for improving adult literacy and numeracy skills launched by the government in March 2001. The strategy aims to improve significantly the literacy, numeracy, information and communication technology (ICT), and language (ESOL) skills of adults in England."

And then it goes on to say:
"The priority groups include the unemployed, prisoners and those supervised in the community, low-skilled employees and other groups at risk of exclusion, such as Gypsy/Traveller families, homeless people, refugees, asylum seekers and drug users."

So they mentioned Language so isn't BSL a language?
They mentioned communication so BSL and lip-reading is some form of communication secondly we aren't on their list of priority's unless they lump us with the unemployed!

I as a taxpayer fund the hearies to gain skills and Deafies don't get a life skill.

No wonder 2 third of us are unemployed

to angry to type more!! grrr

Deaf in the UK are seven times more likely to be unemployed than if you have a criminal record. Wonder why?

I am so dismayed at that.....

This is good material to add to the ever-growing file to press for wider-ranging BSL recognition or even a BSL Act.

Parmjit Dhanda (Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Education and Skills)

Bet he wouldn't say that about Urdu or Punjabi ! Not only is lip-reading and sign language life and essential skills it should be automatically given to anyone with an impairment, and their families if they want it too. I spent 11 years with no access to any system when I went deaf, I wouldn't wish that on anyone. This is dooming many thousands of people to misery and isolation.

Crazy! Bureaucracy.

Myself and my husband are deaf and hard of hearing , I wear two hearing aids and work , I rely on lip reading a great deal with my hearing aids , and learn from the lip reading classes I have been attending in the past how to see certain lip shapes and look for these on other peoples lips . plus we have to read out instructor ( she without voice to us ) to keep up with our skill , I now will not be able to offord to go as I earn little enough as it is , And at least I do work . I have the right as others with hearing to work , and as with a blind person I have no choice with my diability as I am stuck with it for life . Perhaps the people who make the decisions should wear cotton wool in their ears and try to see what is being said to them ! I bet they would look at how hard it is for hearing loss people then . this is truly madening to say the least !!

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