I first met Abigail when I was 10 years old. She is the final part of the 'stable gang' puzzle (with Beth and Kate) with whom I have been 'doing' life for the last 30 years.
From pretending to be a police officer rolling across car parks and hiding behind cars shouting 'cover me', Abigail went on to become a fully fledged police officer, with the Mounted Section in the early days and later moving on to the Armed Response team. We're all really proud and grateful to Abigail for choosing to spend her life serving others.
Abigail's family featured throughout much of my childhood and it has been wonderful to still know them 30 years later. Abigail's brother Alex has agreed to write this blog post outlining why the National Deaf Children's Society is on the fortycubed list of charities and how much of a support the organisation has been to him and his family.
Alex and Natalie's story
'The National Deaf Children's Society is a national charity dedicated to creating what they call 'a world without barriers' for deaf children and young people, of which there are over 45,000 in the UK, two of whom I am lucky enough to call my daughters.
The personal bit...
I am the carrier of a gene defect, along with just less than 1% of the population, that has the potential to stop hairs in the inner ear transmit sound. My wife, by chance also happens to carry the same gene. This means that there was always a one in four chance that we as a couple would both pass on the gene defect and our children would have hearing loss. That is exactly what happened for our first two daughters, Violet and Florence.
When Violet was diagnosed as deaf it was very tough. All of a sudden the future for our 5 year old daughter was not so clear. Could she stay in mainstream education? Would we be able to communicate with her? What was 'wrong' with her?
That was when we went on the NDCS 'Newly Diagnosed' weekend, which proved to be a turning point for us. At a very vulnerable time they educated us, made us feel supported and as a family, helped us look to the future. For this we will always be grateful and hope that other families of deaf children get the benefit of the support that we did.'
The charity bit...
The National Deaf Children's Society was founded in London on 15 December 1944 by a handful of parents of deaf children concerned about the impact of the 1944 Education Act on their schooling. To this day, their vision and values reflect the fact that they remain essentially a parents' organisation, dedicated to the needs of all deaf children, their families and carers. They provide a seamless service supporting families with deaf children from birth to 25.
NDCS offers help to deaf children and their families through:
- Educating them on the support available
- Giving advice on schooling and ensuring ongoing support within school
- Emotional support at the time of diagnosis
- Providing a manned helpline advising on health, social care, discrimination and communication
- Helping with advice on technology and how to access it
- Organising a range of social and networking events for children and their families
Facts you should know...
- There are over 45,000 deaf children living in the UK
- 90% of deaf children are born to hearing parents with little or no experience of deafness or knowledge of how to communicate with a deaf person
- Four babies are born deaf in the UK every day
- 40% of deaf children have additional needs
- 57% of deaf children failed to achieve 5 GCSEs at grades A* to C in 2013 compared to 30% of other children
- Without the right support, deaf children and young people are vulnerable to isolation, abuse, bullying, poor self-esteem and low levels of achievement.
- Research suggests that more than 77% of school-aged deaf children in the UK attend mainstream schools where there is no specialist provision and in which they may be the only deaf child enrolled
Deafness is not learning disability
There is no reason why the majority of deaf children should achieve any less than hearing children. Deaf children need to be able to communicate effectively, access information and the influence the world around them by any appropriate method be it sign language, oral communication or a combination of approaches.
NDCS and fortycubed
Abigail will be hosting a table for NDCS at the Gala Dinner in October. If you would like to make a donation to the charity please follow this link. For more information on the charity please visit the website.