DEX is a User-led organisation. DEX members are users of the deaf education system, and therefore, are “experts by experience” as well as having professional knowledge.
We believe we are the only deaf led organisation that:
- supports all deaf children with all levels of deafness
- fully understands the needs of deaf children in mainstream schools
- is aware of the impact that mainstreaming has on the rest of deaf childrens’ lives.
DEX’s fundamental role is to campaign for a national sign bilingual framework to ensure that all deaf children, regardless of level of hearing loss, have access to their school curriculum in resourced mainstream schools or Deaf schools. This should include:-
- bilingualism in English / British Sign Language (BSL), or
- multilingualism i.e. Welsh, Urdu, and English and BSL
- deaf peer group in significant numbers
- never to be placed alone in mainstream school. This will enable each deaf child to feel part of their school culture, as well as giving them the opportunity to develop a positive deaf identity
- BSL as a national curriculum subject to GCSE level or equivalent
- hearing children in resourced schools to access Deaf culture and BSL
For all specialist staff, this should include :
- entry to be BSL NVQ Level 3, as the minimum standard, with a requirement to train to BSL NVQ Level 6, or equivalent
- CPD training in Regional Centres of Excellence
- Deaf staff to be fully trained and employed as bilingual staff
- parents and family members to receive BSL/Deaf parenting skills and support through government sponsored initiatives
- legislation to implement above requirements, according to DEX’s Framework for Action.
DEX conducted its own Best Value Review (see Best Value Review page) and a feasibility study, in addition to market research and service delivery to local authorities. We have involved deaf children, parents and a wide range of service providers in government organisations (health, councils and voluntary organisations) in our research and strategic planning. We have also read extensively for our literature review, and visited other countries to compare (as required in Best Value Reviews). Our work is not just about a few deaf people’s experiences, but has drawn on a huge well of knowledge.
Because of this, we know that deaf children in mainstream schools, and some Deaf schools, do not receive adequate specialist support to enable them to access education on the same level as hearing children, and that they are socially excluded.
We know the law is not meeting the needs of most deaf children. This is, therefore, in breach of UK and UN law and regulations by not providing :
- Freedom of association
- Freedom of expression
- Rights respected
- Well-being, a happy and safe childhood
- Economic security
- Access to a fluent language.
There is much research into the benefits for bilinguals, regardless of the languages they use. DEX has looked at some of this research as part of its Best Value Review, including the Welsh Language Board on its promotion of the Welsh language in Wales.
A growing international body of research show the same overall results, that bilinguals are :
- Freer from the limits of one single language
- Have a good knowledge of two languages and cultures
- Understand more about life
- Have more empathy, as are better communicators
- Are problem solvers and flexible thinkers
- Can learn more languages more easily
- Have better employment and social opportunities.
This is compelling evidence to show that there is absolutely no reason why deaf children should not be bilingual, and maybe multilingual.
Our recent research into dying and threatened languages (2014) has shown that BSL is severely endangered (see Campaign page).