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Southport Reporter®

Edition No. 199

Date:- 01 May 2005

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look at me!

THE General Election isn't the only thing happening in the first week of May because 2 May to 8 May is Deaf Awareness week and organisations working with deaf people across the country are inviting local candidates to 'Look at Me'. The theme aims to improve understanding of the different types of deafness by highlighting the many different methods of communication used by deaf, deafened, deafblind and hard of hearing people, such as sign language and lipreading. 

There are 8.7 million deaf or hard of hearing people in the UK, that is 1 in 7 of the total population. Deaf people often feel excluded from the political system and all political parties must do more to engage with this significant proportion of the electorate. Deaf Awareness week is a unique awareness campaign bringing together nearly 100 deaf charities and organisations under the umbrella of the UK Council on Deafness.

According to Jonathan Isaac, director of the UK Council on Deafness:- "UK Council on Deafness are delighted that the Prime Minister has chosen to hold the election during Deaf Awareness week. This is a tremendous opportunity to promote the positive aspects of deafness, promote social inclusion and raise awareness of the huge range of local organisations that support deaf people and their family and friends."

A series of posters and an information leaflet are available to support the week's activities. The posters encourage people to look at someone who is deaf or hard of hearing when communicating, so that they can see people's lips and facial expression. The leaflet displays interesting facts about deafness and gives examples of ways the public and businesses can become more accessible to deaf people. These materials can be downloaded from the campaign website.

Deaf Awareness Week will also feature prominently on the Community Channel, available on Sky Digital 585, Telewest 233, ntl 14 and Freeview 46, who are running a variety of signed and subtitled programming during the week. For full programme details visit their website.

The campaign week will also be celebrating the proactive access policies implemented by major UK companies and organisations to ensure that deaf and hard of hearing people are treated fairly and have equal access. B&Q, Royal Shakespeare Company, Birmingham International Airport, The Greater London Authority, Sadler's Wells, Lloyd's TSB and University of Wolverhampton are just a few participating in the week to offer useful examples for others to follow.

Mike Fairey, deputy chief executive, Lloyd's TSB says:- "Offering facilities such as subtitles on staff training videos and induction loops for customers is both easy and cost efficient. We believe that these measures will have a profound impact on deaf and hard of hearing people's experience of dealing with the bank and will bring significant benefits to customers, staff and the organisation as a whole."

For further details on local events in your neighbourhood, along with facts and figures about deafness and deaf issues, go to the campaign website

City praised for equality in education

LIVERPOOL'S education service has won praise from Ofsted for its efforts to promote equality and combat racism in the city's schools. Inspectors from the government's education watchdog spent 4 days in the city examining the range of work being done by the education service and schools to tackle racism and its effects.

The team of 4 inspectors found "a commitment to see race equality bound explicitly in with improving pupil attainment" to "ensure the children of hard to reach groups obtain access to education and make progress". During the successful visit, pupils at both primary and secondary schools demonstrated their understanding of racism and its negative effects and the importance of cultural diversity.

Liverpool City Council's executive member for education, councillor Paul Clein, said:- "Promoting equality in our schools, and indeed our society, is of the utmost importance and it is extremely gratifying that our excellent work has been recognised by an outside agency. If we are to have a tolerant, understanding society, there is no better place to start than within our schools." 

The city council's equality officer, Sue Shinkfield, said:- "Liverpool's education service is fully committed to combating racism and promoting equality in our schools to ensure all children are given the best possible chance to succeed in education and in life. We work hard to support and advise schools to raise understanding of diversity and equality as part of the curriculum. We are extremely pleased that Ofsted has recognised the good work taking place across the city." 

The inspectors particularly praised the following areas: 
Support and guidance provided to schools by the education service. 

The Liverpool Black Achievement project, which is "effectively combining learning with race equality." 

Level of support offered to the city's Somali and Yemeni communities. 

The "impressive" support from the city council for the traveller community. 

A report into Ofsted's visit will be written and published nationally, with an opportunity for good practice to be shared with other education authorities around the country.

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