16 Dec 2010

Report suggests changes for deaf education

8:26 pm on 16 December 2010

A report for the Ministry of Education has recommended major changes to the education of deaf children.

The report says most of the nearly 3000 deaf children in the education system have cochlear implants or hearing aids and only about 300 use a form of sign language.

However, it says all deaf children could benefit from sign language, even if they are also learning to speak.

Kelston Deaf Education Centre chief executive David Foster says the report captures the importance of fulltime education in New Zealand Sign Language.

Mr Foster says about 800 children really need education through sign language and three-quarters of them are not getting it fulltime.

The report also recognises the importance of putting them in classes with other deaf students.

Deaf groups say that is good news and will help improve children's education performance.

They say the few children reliant on sign language have not had equitable access to education - and that needs to change.

Deaf Aotearoa chief executive Rachel Noble says deaf people are visual learners and sign language is an important tool in their education.

The Ministry of Education is not yet committing to the review's recommendations, but says they are a starting point for discussions.