Deaf people ‘face exclusion and discrimination’


newslatestDeaf people across the UK are facing exclusion and discrimination on an almost daily basis, according to a new report that will be submitted to the United Nations (UN).

The draft British Deaf Association (BDA) report includes evidence of healthcare treatment provided without informed consent, Deaf prisoners denied basic access to the telephone, lack of access to information, and cuts to employment support that threaten Deaf people’s jobs.

It warns that government policies are “impacting adversely on Deaf people’s lives” across health services, education, the justice system, employment, political participation, and on their ability to take part in cultural activities, sport and recreation.

It concludes that Deaf people in the UK experience “health inequalities, poor educational outcomes, and impoverished civil rights”.

The report calls on the government to grant legal status to British Sign Language (BSL), reform Deaf education, and reduce health inequalities between Deaf and hearing people, among other measures.

It also calls for an investigation into the prevalence of mental, physical and sexual abuse of Deaf people, which would also examine ways in which to prevent and report such abuse in the future.

It also points out that, in contrast with countries such as Belgium, Canada and New Zealand, there has not been a UK MP who uses sign language since the late 18th century.

The report says the Deaf community is “virtually invisible” in UK policies on disability, and it criticises the government for failing to introduce policies to “support, promote and recognise the values of our sign languages, community and culture and the benefits they bring to broader UK society”.

It also warns that relying on equality laws to reduce discrimination and ensure that Deaf people’s linguistic human rights are respected is “impractical” because of the “enormous” barriers they face in accessing the legal system.

BDA has sent the draft report to its members, supporters, deaf organisations, groups and clubs for their feedback.

Once the draft report has been finalised, it will be included as an appendix to a report being prepared by a group of disabled people’s organisations, the Reclaiming Our Futures Alliance (ROFA).

The ROFA report is likely to be the most influential of several “shadow” reports being prepared by disability organisations for submission to the UN.

Disabled people and their organisations can submit their thoughts on how the UK government has implemented the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in shadow reports, which will give alternative views to the report submitted to the UN by the government in November 2011, and another shadow report to be written by the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

22 May 2014