‘I don’t wear jewellery’: How deaf pupils are marginalised in our schools

In early April, Bangor University will host a one-day conference for individuals and families who have a hearing impairment. The event will be held on Saturday, April 5th from 10.00 a.m. until 3.30 p.m. in Powis Hall, Main Arts Building, College Road, Bangor University.

Following last year’s success, this will be the second conference of its kind in north Wales. Its aim is to bring individuals and families together to socialise, to discuss the field, to share their experiences and to listen to 4 experienced speakers sharing their understanding and specialism. Following the lunch-time break, there will be an open ‘Question-time’ session which will enable delegates to ask for assistance, advise and encourage others. Several local, regional and national deaf organisations, as well as volunteer groups active in the field will also be present throughout the day’s events.

The conference speakers will include:

Mark Isherwood, Assembly Member for North Wales & Shadow Minister for Communities and Housing, who is also a Member of Cross Party Groups on Deaf Issues;

Jane MacDonald, Principal Practitioner of Conwy Council’s Physical Disability & Sensory Impairment Group;

Siân Williams, SNAP Cymru – an experienced teacher of the deaf in North West Wales, and

Katerine Ellen Roberts, a Psychology student at Bangor University who has encountered many difficulties during her primary and secondary education in north Wales.

As Katerine remembers:

"During my school days, I was often made to feel that I was a burden and an inconvenience. I suffer from deafness (though I lip-read effortlessly) and I do recall one of my teachers refusing to wear the lapel microphone that would have enabled me to hear his lesson. While the other teachers wore it and were only glad to help me in my difficulty, his reaction to such a simple request was so very hurtful as well as insulting’.

‘I don’t wear jewellery!’ he said thoughtlessly. Little did he realise, that I too never enjoyed wearing my hearing aids … but they enabled me to engage with life and continue with my education."  

A total of 194 families in north Wales are affected by severe hearing difficulties and according to recent press reports, Welsh-speaking children who suffer from deafness are sometimes unduly disadvantaged.

The conference has been arranged in order to encourage a regional debate, which will in turn inform Government policy and hopefully, give rise to further research in the field. Improvements to hearing services throughout Conwy, Denbigh, Flintshire, Gwynedd and Anglesey would also be a much sought-after outcome.

Signers (British Sign Language) and Palantypists will be present throughout the event and each presentation will be filmed for the benefit of a wider audience. The conference is free to all delegates and tea/coffee/soft drinks will be available throughout the day. Those wishing to register should contact the Conference Secretary - Mrs. Iona Rhys Cooke on (01248) 382255 or by email - i.r.cooke@bangor.ac.uk

Publication date: 28 March 2014