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Young deaf people are 'unaware of support available to them'

28 Aug 12 - 4:07PM  | 
Under a revised approach to child care, it has been confirmed that people in social work jobs and teachers are to be given specific training to improve young people's access to legal support.

The move comes shortly after a report, conducted by the Royal Association for Deaf People's Deaf Law Centre, suggested that young people are often oblivious to the range of support available to them.

There is, according to the report, a noticeable lack of information to support young deaf people, many of whom unwittingly shun the help on offer.

Indeed, the study suggested that this scenario has “fundamentally led to young deaf people being unable to benefit from legal advice services”.

Entitled Making the Law Work for Young Deaf People, the report said it is imperative that access to communication support is greatly improved.

Furthermore, it stated that parents, friends and others must be educated about the relevant issues in order to help young deaf people to secure their legal rights.

"Young deaf people are used to relying on hearing people, be they parents, teachers, social workers or other specialist hearing professionals," commented Jeff Brattan-Wilson, the law centre’s manager.

He added: "They may assume that the hearing person knows the answers to their problems. But these people are not legally trained and may not be best placed to advise young people about their rights.

"We'll be providing training to these people so they will be better able to spot a legal issue and to refer young deaf people to the right agencies if they need legal advice."

Young deaf people often encounter problems relating to their rights and services, according to the report. However, the most common problems are issues relating to the benefits they are entitled to - some of which go unclaimed - and also the discrimination they suffer.

Rob Wilks, the head of legal services at the centre, reflected that one of the most common issues is "a failure to provide an interpreter or in some cases a refusal to provide one".

To combat such problems, the centre has pledged to do even more to ensure that young people are conscious of its legal support services, while it also plans to target more of its documents at youngsters.

Earlier this month, children's regulator Ofqual said that disabled children in England require better protection against abuse.

John Goldup, the deputy chief inspector of Ofsted, observed that even though these problems are common to children with disabilities, they are less likely than their contemporaries to be subject to child protection measures.

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