The UK government received a petition asking:
“We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to recognise that lip-reading is an essential life-skill for the deaf and hard of hearing and therefore that adult education lip-reading courses should be funded in the same way as other life skills.”
Details of Petition:
“As you become deaf, you become isolated in a world of silence where you are ignored by the hearing majority and unable to communicate with them. Without alternative life skills including lip-reading, you eventually withdraw from society. A thirty week lip-reading course in Essex now costs £186. This has caused most courses to close, remaining courses to be under-subscribed and a large number of deaf people to be cast out into an uncaring world without the ability to communicate with others.”
The government’s response –
The Government recognises that lip reading is an important skill for some people with hearing impairment and recognises that many people wanting to take up lip reading courses face barriers, both physical and financial in accessing learning. Full fee remission is provided to learners on Learning and Skills Council (LSC) funded Further Education (FE) courses where they are in receipt of income based benefits. In addition to this some FE colleges and providers can use their discretion to waive fees. They may choose to do so where a learner is undertaking a lip-reading course and has declared themselves as having a learning difficulty and / or disabilities; for example where a learner is hearing impaired.
In 2004/05 (the latest date for which figures are available), 81% of FE funded lip reading learners paid no fee due either to national policy or by having their fees waived at the discretion of the college or other provider.
Some very basic, introductory level lip reading courses may be offered informally outside of the LSC FE funding structure as part of family learning courses or personal and community development learning. In these cases the cost of learning will be a local decision.
Skills for Life (the Government’s adult basic skills strategy) covers literacy, numeracy and language (ESOL) learning up to Level 2 (equivalent to GCSE A – C grades). Literacy and numeracy learning is free of charge to all adults (people aged 16+) with literacy/numeracy skills below Level 2.
The Government has considered whether lip reading should be classified as a “Basic Skill” and therefore part of the Skills for Life strategy, but concluded that lip reading should not be classified as basic skills due to a number of points:
· Substantial numbers of people who do not themselves have hearing impairments undertake lip reading and especially signing courses for a variety of reasons (for example, carers seeking employment), or for general interest;
· The Government has defined “Basic Skills” in terms of national standards of literacy and numeracy, and lip reading/signing courses are not linked to these standards;
. “Basic Skills” can reasonably be regarded as those that virtually the whole population should possess. While lip reading may be valuable, and even essential for some learners, it is not a skill that all people might be expected to possess; and
It has not been considered reasonable to reclassify lip reading courses without including other communication skills, which form a significant volume of provision.
I’m most annoyed. They have misunderstood the petition and don’t seem to realise that lipreading is a NECESSITY for most deaf and hard of hearing people, ergo it is a basic life skill for this large group of people, almost 1 in 7 of the UK population. If hearing people want to learn lipreading as well, well that’s up to them (I have never come across any hearing students when teaching my lipreading classses), but does not take away from the fact that for most deaf people, lipreading is a basic life skill. By this government’s reasoning, I agree that lipreading does not fit into their Skills for Life strategy. I do however, think that their Skills for Life strategy needs a rethink.