Deaf children 'not guaranteed full education'


Some deaf children are not guaranteed access to the education curriculum even at the age of 10, a conference was told today.

Prof Jim Kyle said the education of deaf children suffers because they only learn sign language in later life.

The expert from the University of Bristol's Centre for Deaf Studies said Europe-wide research had revealed that only 35 per cent of deaf people said they learned to sign before the age of five.

He said: "Parents, teachers and hearing people in general offer relatively poor models of language for deaf young people."

Over 30 experts addressed the conference on "Encouraging Signs: Developing Deaf Studies in Ireland" - which was attended by many of Ireland's 4,500-strong deaf community.

Trinity College Dublin hosted the conference to mark the tenth anniversary of the graduation of the first class of students in deaf studies in Ireland. 

Dr Lorraine Leeson, director of the Centre for Deaf Studies at Trinity, said over the last decade there had been many developments including several EU-funded programmes offering training to those involved in adult education and sign language teaching.

Mr Markku Jokinen, president of the World Federation of the Deaf, told the conference that new technologies were having a positive impact on the lives of deaf people.

"Through mobile phones and computers with Internet and e-mail facilities, deaf people's opportunities for communication have increased dramatically," he said.

But Mr Jokenin warned that even with growing recognition there were still millions of deaf people who do not have a sign language and never receive any education.