DEAF CHILDREN leave school at 18 with a reading age of nine and numeracy levels of 10- to 12 year-olds despite having normal intelligence, research has shown.
Minister for Children Frances Fitzgerald said she found it “upsetting” that deaf children struggled so much in the school systems.
She admitted to being “taken aback” by the results of a study in the United States, which found normally intelligent deaf children were let down by the education system. The results were cited as evidence of the universal disadvantage children have in the school system, including in Ireland.
At the recent launch of a new paper on the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) on the future of education for deaf children, Ms Fitzgerald said the Government supported the goals of early intervention and focused education provision which would allow deaf children to thrive.
NCSE special education adviser Mary Byrne said it was a common complaint among deaf and hard-of-hearing children that teachers frequently underestimated what they were capable of doing. She said the ultimate goal was to ensure these children should leave school with levels of educational attainment on a par with their hearing peers of similar ability.
The NCSE has stressed early intervention with a further roll-out of a universal national programme of newborn hearing screening.