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NZEI call for better education access for deaf children

6 September 2013

Immediate Release

NZEI supports call for better education access for deaf children

NZEI Te Riu Roa says many schools and early childhood centres struggle to meet the needs of deaf children because of a lack of resources for adequate training of teachers and support staff.

National President Judith Nowotarski says there is a need to urgently address the problems faced by many deaf children in schools and early childhood centres.

A report just released from the Human Rights Commission has highlighted the issues faced by deaf children in education.

The Report of the New Zealand Sign Language Inquiry says that deaf children often don’t get enough access to sign language learning opportunities.

It says that wherever a deaf child is schooled, sign language learning opportunities should be available alongside options that can be accessed through video technologies.

Judith Nowotarski says while teachers and support staff do their best, many struggle because of the minimal training in sign language and deaf culture.

NZEI supports the call for interpreters to be available in schools and ECE centres as well as resources so that all staff are able to become more fluent in sign language.

“We need to stress that this is a resource issue and it needs to be addressed on a national basis – not at an ad hoc level by schools. Currently there is no professional development money set aside for sign language training and it’s up to each school to find its own funding.

“We would also support the proposal in the report to train deaf people for roles in early intervention teams.

Judith Nowotarski says it must be remembered that sign language is an official language of New Zealand, and that needs to be recognised through appropriate and adequate resourcing.

ENDS

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