|The Access to Communication in English (ACE) campaign.
The story so far.
Members will know only too well that the availability in the UK of Speech to Text Reporters and Lipspeakers compares very poorly with that of BSL interpreters. Deaf people wanting to participate in meetings using English rather than BSL – the great majority of deaf people – often find it extremely difficult to get access to appropriate communication support. This is the key issue being addressed through the ACE Campaign, in which NADP has been actively participating for the last couple of years.
The Campaign was instigated by the UK Council on Deafness, of which the Association is an active member, and UKCoD were able to secure a small amount of grant funding from the Department of Work and Pensions to cover the costs of UKCoD facilitating the work of the ACE Coalition. This brings together a subset of UKCoD member organisations who – like us -see the ACE campaign as being particularly important to their members, and who have been willing to make some of their resources available to support the campaign. For example the leaflets which have been issued under ACE auspices were edited and printed on its behalf by the RNID. Several members of the NADP EC have represented the Association at one or more of the meetings of the ACE Coalition, and have found it a positive experience to be working alongside a wide range of other UKCoD member organisations, each of which brings its own perspective to these issues.
One outcome of NADP’s involvement is that we have produced for the Coalition a leaflet called “Know your rights” to make deaf users aware that they can request communication support. You will find a copy of the leaflet on this website.
This work has now culminated in the submission of a report to Whitehall which sets out the sheer scale of the problem and a series of recommendations on how it can be addressed. The report shows for example, that whereas there are 475 registered BSL/English interpreters in the UK for approximately 60,000 people, there are only 108 registered English-language based LSPs [of whom the majority are Lipspeakers] for the millions of deaf people who may benefit from their services.
The text of the report can be found on the UKCoD web site, and we have some printed copies available which can be made available to members on request. The recommendations are reproduced at the end of this article.
Where do we go next?
The publication of the ACE report is [to borrow Churchill’s words] merely the end of the beginning, and we still have a huge amount of work to do to implement the Recommendations. We need to remind the Government of the way in which they have provided dedicated funding for training of BSL interpreters, and persuade them that they need to develop similar schemes for English based LSP training. The report has been favourably received by the head of the new Government Office for Disability Issues, and the All Party Parliamentary Group on Deafness discussed ACE issues with the Minister for Disabled People, Anne McGuire, at a meeting in December, but the ACE Coalition will need to mount a sustained campaign [over a period of years rather than months] if we are to achieve remotely acceptable levels of communication upport for non-signing deaf people.
The NADP EC see this work as being absolutely central to the Association’s mission, and intend to support the follow up campaign as vigorously as we can. Members can support this work by taking all available opportunities to request provision of their preferred form of communication support when they go to public meetings, etc. It is only by showing the level of suppressed demand that currently exists for these services than we can secure funding etc for LSP training. There is a strong link here to the Disability Equality Schemes (DES) referred to in recent issues of Network. If you can press your local Council, etc. to include a positive commitment in their DES to providing the right communication support for deafened people they will then discover for themselves how difficult it is to find suitable support in many parts of the country.
The ACE Recommendations:
1. An information campaign targeted at deaf people, conducted through deaf clubs, local and national deaf associations and lipreading classes using the 'Providing Access to Communication in English for Deaf People – Your rights to communication support under the DDA' leaflet to raise awareness of deaf people’s rights and the options available.
2. Comprehensive written guidance on language and communication access services to be routinely issued at the first point of contact with the NHS in the process of diagnosis and to every person attending an audiology clinic.
3. The CACDP 'Developing Awareness and Communication with Deaf and Deafblind People' training to be delivered widely with the objective that all those in a ‘customer facing’ role are deaf aware and able to communicate with deaf people effectively.
4. Staff that regularly work with deaf people to attain further accredited awareness and communication qualifications appropriate to their position.
5. Service Providers to widen the scope of their community language interpreting services to include the provision of language and communication access services for deaf people.
6. The 'Providing access to communication in English for deaf people – Your duties under the DDA' leaflet to be distributed to all large companies and public sector organisations and at trade fairs and similar events throughout the UK. A network of awareness officers to be established to provide expert advice at Job Centres and Trade Union Conferences to explain about deafness and the types of language and communication access services.
7. Language and communication access services demonstration days to be held for employees of large companies and public sector organisations as part of their commitment to the well-being of their staff. These events to include information about how to book language and communication access services, and how to get support from the Access to Work scheme.
8. The ACE Registration Panel to develop the Register of Qualified Language Service Professionals so that it is fit for purpose for all types of LSP, is accessible and is freely available for all those booking an LSP.
9. All LSPs to register with a relevant national registration body.
10. All agencies that provide LSPs to sign up to the ASG Standards of Service.
11. All Service Providers and Employers booking a language and communication access service to require the LSP to be registered with a relevant national registration body.
12. The 'Careers as a Language Service Professional – Working with deaf people' leaflet to be distributed widely through Schools, Careers Advisers, Connexions, Colleges and to students of all CACDP courses.
13. Courses to train tutors and assessors to be held at strategic centres across the UK ensuring a growth in the training and learning opportunities for LSPs throughout the country.
14. Level One and Level Two courses to be held at centres across the UK and made accessible to as many types of LSP student as possible.
15. Research is undertaken to map existing and forecast supply of and demand for LSP provision and existing location of LSP training.
16. Level Three training courses for all LSPs to be developed such that cost to the student is not a disincentive to study.
17. Qualifications for CSTs to be accredited by October 2007; suitable training is made available to tutors and the training and certification of the first cohort of CSTs is completed by 2009.
18. LSPs currently holding CACDP qualifications at Level Two to progress to the new CACDP LSP Level Three qualifications and transition arrangements to be made so that they are given credit for the achievement of a relevant Level Two LSP qualification.
19. Training courses to be developed and made available to all LSPs to provide training in specialist fields such as Law, Mental Health and Linguistics.
20. Start-up support be provided to the Association of Verbatim Speech To Text Reporters and the Association of Note-taking Professionals.
21. Support be provided to the Association of Lipspeakers to enable them to create an environment of collaboration and maximise resource sharing potential.
22. Remote Contact Centres to extend their coverage to include all types of language and communication access services, offering real choice and flexibility for deaf people.
23. Accredited Level Three courses be developed for LSPs that use Speech Recognition Software.
24. Speech Recognition Software to be offered to families of recently diagnosed deaf people.
25. The NHS to make available the Speech Recognition Software and training in its use to all healthcare professionals that have regular contact with deaf people.
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