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MP backs campaign to help deaf children achieve their potential

Posted Oct 16 2009 10:01pm

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Richard Benyon, MP for Newbury, met with Louis Kissaun - the deaf 17 year-old TV star, at the Conservative Party conference, to find out about the barriers deaf young people face at school.

Louis, who attends the Mary Hare school for the deaf in Newbury, starred in the Channel 4 series Shameless. He spoke out about the reasons that some deaf children and young people are underachieving, including the damaging impact poor acoustics in the classroom can have on their learning.

Louis is backing the NDCS'Sounds Good?' campaign to ensure new schools are tested for acoustic quality before they are used. Research commissioned by the charity shows that high quality acoustics in the classroom are essential for all children to learn effectively, with particular importance for deaf children. Yet as the government spends billions of pounds on the schools rebuilding programme, many schools are being built with poor acoustics that do not meet minimum building standards.

Louis explained to Richard: “Growing up as a deaf person, I and lots of my friends have had to work much harder to do well. Noisy classrooms give me headaches and make it harder for me to concentrate and learn. I had to move many miles away from my home so that I could go to a specialist school for deaf children with good acoustics. It is frustrating that not all schools are accessible to deaf children.

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Acting in Shameless was a great experience and I hope that it has raised awareness of what deaf young people can achieve. I’m hoping for good results in my A Levels and am aiming to go into a career in film directing or writing. But I’ve only been able to achieve at school thanks to all the support I had from my parents and my teachers. It’s really important that other deaf children and young people get the same support.”

Richard Benyon said, “I fully support the NDCS Sounds Good? campaign. I was concerned when I found out the immense difficulties pupils with a hearing impairment face when trying to hear a teacher in a classroom with poor acoustics. We should not be putting children in classes in which they cannot learn. Barriers such as this must be broken down if we want to give deaf children the best chance of achieving their full educational potential.”

Brian Gale, NDCS Director of Policy and Campaigns, explains, “Too many deaf children are not achieving their educational potential and too little attention is paid to how difficult it is for young people like Louis to listen and learn in the classroom. It is fantastic that Richard Benyon MP is supporting the rights of deaf children and has taken the time to meet with Louis. Louis is an inspiration to all of us and has proved that deafness shouldn’t hold anyone back.

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