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Government's 'No Ears' Inappropriate During Deaf Awareness Week

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Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Government's 'No Ears' Inappropriate During Deaf Awareness Week

As Deaf Awareness Week draws to a close, the Government's refusal to reconcile community claims that NZ Sign and other language learning courses for deaf people will be axed despite its assertions to the contrary is just not good enough, says Labour's Disabilities Issues spokesperson Lynne Pillay. "The majority of New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL) classes are delivered through community education and are used not only by people who are deaf, but by their families, teachers, nurses, police and workmates. "Labour has been told by schools and groups that the slashing of Adult and Community Education (ACE) funding will result in the closure of a number of courses for the deaf. "Despite this, Education Minister Anne Tolley has repeatedly denied it is true, as did Finance Minister Bill English in Parliament this week," says Lynne Pillay. "Labour has been told that NZSL classes at Mairehau High School (Christchurch), Taieri College (Dunedin), Kelston Boys' High School (Auckland) and Tamatea High School (Napier) will be canned. A number of other schools have said they may also be forced to do the same once negotiations over the remaining funding are resolved. "My colleague Annette King also tabled a letter in Parliament this week from the Hearing Association of Wellington, which is very concerned that funding for courses in speech reading and lip reading for the deaf and hearing impaired provided through Wellington High School has been cut next year. "The Government claims that its education funding priorities are literacy and numeracy - particularly for youth. Yet it is young deaf people who will suffer the most from the loss of these courses, which are fundamental to ensuring they can reach their potential in the community and in the workforce. "The theme of this week's Deaf Awareness Week is 'Protecting Tender Ears" and is about reducing excessive noise levels in preschools. It is about creating healthy hearing habits for our children," Lynne Pillay says. "This is sadly ironic given the unhealthy refusal to listen to the voice of the community displayed by the Government this week. It must come clean and explain what's going on. Will any of these courses be cut or not?"

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