Why The UK Needs An Approved Governing Body For Deaf Issues.

Can you sign?

I am very alarmed at the fact that there is no official register for CSW’s (Communication Support Workers) to protect both themselves and members of the deaf community. CSW’s should be regulated and abide by a code of conduct. Just like NRCPD (National Registered Communication Professionals working with Deaf/Deafblind people) interpreters have to in order to work. So please, can they (CSW’s) be regulated too?

How many people say “I can sign”? (well done! you know how to sign your name…)

Would a nurse be employed without being registered first?

Would a nurse be allowed to perform a consultant’s job? (i.e. brain surgery)

A plumber has to be registered otherwise they are considered as a rogue trader… I would not let him fix anything he wasn’t trained for – especially if I am facing a barrier in making a complaint about him if circumstances changed due to faults from their services… By not complying to a code of conduct or being registered means they can do as they like knowing they will get away with it. Their registration card would convince me they are regulated and qualified. Without one, no thanks…

The logistics have to apply in every profession…? I am sure every-one would be happier knowing there is an official system in place regulating and protecting both sides. We deserve the best don’t we? In all senses. No longer second class citizens.

Here is a response from a kind and patient Mr Ian Noon to my appeal for CSW’s to be monitored by the NDCS (National Deaf Children’s Society) due to fears deaf children’s educations is being severely hindered by lack of skills and experience. Here is an extract of it as he was happy for it to be shared. Thank you ever so, Ian.

“We would agree with you that we need a more skilled workforce able to support deaf children.

The I-Sign project at the moment is working to develop a new qualification for CSWs and have set up a CSW development fund. Have you come across this? More information on this can be found at http://www.ndcs.org.uk/family_support/how_ndcs_can_help/ndcs_projects/isign/csw_development_fun.html. By developing a specific CSW qualification, it will hopefully be easier to persuade schools in the future to employ someone who has receiving training and has the right skills.

NatSIP (National Sensory Impairment Partnership) have also produced guidance on best practice in relation to teaching assistants and communication support workers.


In the coming months, NDCS will be looking afresh at our position statement on CSWs but you’ll see that we already call for at least level 3 as a minimum standard http://www.ndcs.org.uk/about_us/position_statements/supporting_bsl_users.html

If parents have concerns about the support for their individual child, they can contact the NDCS Freephone Helpline for information and support. There may be things that the family can do to challenge a school or service that isn’t providing qualified CSWs.

Finally, we would definitely agree with you that there needs to be a stronger accountability framework. You may have seen that, as part of our Stolen Futures campaign, we’ve been calling on Ofsted to inspect specialist SEN support services for deaf children. A Stolen Futures briefing on this can be found at http://www.ndcs.org.uk/document.rm?id=8328 and a parliamentary briefing where we tried to get a change to the law on this can be found at: http://www.ndcs.org.uk/about_us/campaign_with_us/england/campaign_news/lordscandfbill.html Ofsted have agreed to carry out a review of the wider special educational needs inspection framework and to report by June. However, it’s going to be difficult to persuade the Government to give Ofsted more money to carry out these kinds of inspections – so we have a lot of work to do over the coming months.

Any help you or anyone else can offer would be great – for example, writing to local MPs to ask them if Ofsted will inspect support for deaf children or going to the BDA (British Deaf Association) Deaf Day – are things that will really help.”

Another response from Anthony Owen that he very kindly made (on my initial post on Facebook):

“A proposal for opening a category for CSWs in the NRCPD was formally presented to the NRCPD on the 15th of February 2012. It was a 70 page document, ACSW (Association of Communication Support Workers) took the lead in producing it, with the agreement of NATED, (National Association for Tertiary Education for Deaf people) and it was supported by the DESF (Deaf Education Support Forum) comprising representatives of ACSW, Action on Hearing Loss (http://www.actiononhearingloss.org.uk/, The Association of Notetaking Professionals (ANP), The Association of Sign Language Interpreters (ASLI), The British Association of Teachers of the Deaf (BATOD), The Consortium of Higher Education Support Services with Deaf Students (CHESS), Mary Hare training, NATED, and Signature. The proposal therefore represented a meeting of minds of the main stakeholder organisations involved in the education of Deaf students at all ages. Members of the DESF made several amendments before submission, so it was a document that was well thought-out and relevant.

The proposal was put to the NRCPD board at its meeting on 2nd July 2012. The NRCPD board considered the process to take the proposal forward and agreed the following stages:

1 Commission a situation analysis to provide answers to the questions that arose from the board’s first reading of the proposal and seek to identify a solid opportunity for NRCPD to act. Funds have been committed and consultants commissioned to get this stage under way.

2 Development of a proposal for regulating this area of practice.

3 Obtain stakeholder consultation on that proposal.

4 Final discussion and decision.

ACSW received a consultant’s response highlighting areas that needed work on. On Friday 21st June 2013 ACSW sent a lengthy document answering each area. There have since been brief talks on the definition of the role of the CSW, contained in the CSW Code of Practice (held on the NATED website). The CSW CoP has been in place for many years, was revised in 2008 after national consultation with stakeholders and updated in 2013 in consultation with CSW trainers, working and training CSWs, teachers of the deaf etc. The process took a while to complete but the CoP is now a more valid and current document.

We are waiting further developments.”

Unfortunately they are STILL waiting… I even tweeted NRCPD to find out why it is taking so long for them to realise the proposal and create the official register of which many agree to and want. No response as of yet.

Problem is charities and companies concerning issues for the deaf / hearing loss can do the hell what they like when there is no governing body for us to turn to or for them to be monitored by. Especially when money is involved. There needs to be one to keep them in check and keep deaf peoples best interests at heart. Why is there Ofcom, Ofsted, Fifa etc… But not one for deaf/hearing loss issues?!

I have also made some tweets to several political parties to ask “Why is there no governing body to monitor self-regulatory bodies concerning deaf issues?”…. I have not yet been “heard”…

There are other “professionals” who give “deaf awareness” training and can get away with it because there is no one at their end to question them, to protect both sides… “Hold on, is this deaf awareness training?!” (Tap on shoulder, speak clearly…Well done, pat on back and certificate awarded…a piece of paper to make them look good…) “Are you even qualified or experienced to give it?” Blah blah… Money over people. How sad. Times have to change. Surely people’s rights should be more important? While people are salaried, things will never really change as the determination and passion for it has to come from the bottom of our hearts. There is a quote that sticks in my mind “If we are bystanders to injustice, we invite injustice our way.” Are you inviting injustice?

There were even attempts to try and use past and current negative hospital experiences to try and sell more BSL (British Sign Language) courses when that alone would not solve the major social policy issues within the NHS. Whether they had good intentions or were trying to take advantage…. That is for you to decide.

People feel the need and are able to do this because society does not know any better to ask any questions. A loop hole (market) has been created from the government not legally recognising BSL and by not implementing equality and inclusion. Or any deaf awareness being instilled from long ago… It is about time there is an approved national governing body to monitor “official” registers and self regulating bodies in many areas, especially when money is being made from deafness and deaf issues. To protect ALL, on an equal basis.

“Deaf children have a right to a quality education, like all other children, in a language and environment that maximizes their potential” from Human Rights Watch. Here is another source regarding developing a GCSE for BSL. It is all part of the ripple effect and once BSL has been legalised , equality and inclusion will slowly but surely occur in everyone’s best interests.

Of course, there are many who have worked very hard to get to where they are today and they deserve to be recognised for being who they are, who are genuinely in it – for the people. Kudos to them. Thank you, for bridging the communication barriers between the deaf and hearing worlds.

Further reasons why UK needs an approved governing body for deaf issues: Making a complaint regarding NHS and/or Government services.

~ SJ (Sara Jae)

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