Deaf Parents Gaps in Services video

A new video, Deaf Parents Gaps in Services, was launched on May 15th 2002. It was made by Sabina Chowdry and funded by SCOPE give it a go Millennium Awards. Sabina is a deaf people’s advocate who has done research into the experience of deaf parents; she is a member of DPPi’s Deaf Parents’ Working Party, who supported her project.

The video shows deaf parents sharing their experiences of maternity services in the UK. An expectant mother, a new mother and a deaf couple talk about the barriers they have encountered and what they feel should have been made available to them. The video also describes how human rights legislation affects deaf parents and includes a directory of useful organisations.

The launch was held at the London headquarters of the Royal National Institute for Deaf People (RNID). The RNID kindly allowed the use of its premises and provided communication support for the event. Over 50 people including parents, representatives from national and local organisations working with deaf people, healthcare workers and mainstream parenting organisations, attended the day. Some of the parents came with their children and this gave the event an informal family feel.

Discussion followed the viewing of the video. Overall the feedback was very positive and seen as a good start in the right direction. Parents commented that they wished that something similar had been available when their children were born. It was felt that more videos were needed to cover other aspects of parenting. Some people thought that it was important not to concentrate solely on pregnancy and babies. Deaf parents with older children also need information and support particularly through the difficult teenage years. It was generally felt that the video was excellent and would be useful for raising awareness of the issues faced by deaf parents. Parents in the audience went on to share their own stories of pregnancy and childbirth and it was clear that there is a long way to go before maternity services are fully accessible to deaf and hard of hearing people.

After lunch there was a workshop session. Yvonne, a deaf mother talked about her plans to set up a first aid course for deaf parents. There was a lot of interest in this. Sabina and Becki Josiah  (DPPi Information Officer) led the afternoon. This was an opportunity to find out what people thought was needed for deaf parents and what the project should be working on next. Access to videoed information, support groups and more deaf awareness amongst professionals were discussed. The plan to run an event for deaf families during the National Family and Parenting Institute parent’s week was suggested and ideas for an information/fun day or weekend away were discussed.

The launch seemed a great success. It was an opportunity to get people together to share experiences and discuss issues affecting deaf parents. The video and launch were made possible thanks to the hard work and commitment of Sabina and the Deaf Parents’ Working Party. Thanks should also go to Remark!, the company who produced the video at a reduced price, and the parents and organisations who participated in both the making of the video and the launch.

Note: Sabina has since set up an independent charity called Deaf Parenting UK -  www.deafparent.org.uk.

First published in Disability, Pregnancy & Parenthood international, Issue 40, October 2002.

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