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Deaf-Blind Children to Present Charter to Government

Editor's Note: Editor's Note: This item is reprinted with permission from Sense's website. http://www.sense.org.uk

Deaf-blind children and their families are to hand in a charter to the Government demanding equal rights with other children on Monday, 27th of October, 2003. Thousands have signed the charter, from Zoe Ball to Anne Begg MP, asking for better support for deaf-blind children and young people.

Sense, the national charity for deaf-blind people, has organized the charter which will be handed to Baroness Ashton at the Department for Education and Skills.

The charter describes four key areas where action will change the lives of deaf-blind children and young people for the better. These are:

  • Pre-school deaf-blind children should be given the support they need to play, learn and develop.

  • Deaf-blind children should be given the chance to take part in the life of their community.

  • Deaf-blind young people should be able to participate in activities with people of their own age.

  • Deaf-blind children and young people should receive information in a way that suits their needs.

Children are coming from all over the country to the hand-in. They range from four-year-old Jesse, who is deaf-blind, to 16-year-old Zara-Jayne, who has a rare condition called CHARGE syndrome.

The charter has been signed across the country and online. Sue Brown, Head of Campaigns at Sense, said "more than 4200 children in the UK have dual sensory disabilities. This charter asks that the basic rights most people take for granted are provided to children who are at such a critical learning age and deserve a decent childhood. The Government has recognized the needs of deaf-blind children in guidance to local authorities. Sadly, too many families still have to fight to get the support to which they are entitled."

Deaf-blindness is a combination of both sight and hearing difficulties. There are about 23,000 people in the UK who have a serious impairment of vision and hearing. Some of these people are completely deaf and blind, but others have some remaining use of one or both senses. A further 250,000 people experience some degree of dual sensory impairment, many in older age.

Causes of deaf-blindness include premature birth, birth trauma and exposure to rubella during pregnancy, which can cause babies to be born deaf-blind. Some genetic conditions, such as Usher syndrome, can also result in deaf-blindness. People can also become deaf-blind at any time through illness, accident, or in older age.

Further information can be found on Sense's website: www.sense.org.uk/reachout

The Reach Out campaign to raise awareness of local authority duties is supported by the Newsco Insider group, which publishes a series of regional business magazines.

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