Location: Northern Ireland
Deaf and hard-of-hearing schoolchildren in Wales underachieve compared to their hearing peers at every stage of their education, a new report has revealed.
Published to coincide with Deaf Awareness Week, which is taking place across the UK between Monday May 15th and Sunday May 21st, these new findings from the Welsh government have led to calls for greater support for deaf children while they are at school to prevent them from falling behind.
Statistics show that under half (48 per cent) of deaf and hard-of-hearing pupils in Wales achieved A* to C grades in core GCSE subjects in 2014, compared to almost two-thirds (64 per cent) of their hearing counterparts.
In 2016, the gap widened, with 69.5 per cent of hearing children achieving these exam scores in contrast to just 48.5 per cent of those with some form of hearing loss.
What's more, it is not just at the age of 16 that this attainment gap can be seen, but also throughout primary school. Government figures show that the gap has either remained the same or worsened each year for the past three years for children aged between seven and 11.
Speaking to BBC News, Debbie Thomas, policy and campaigns officer for the National Deaf Children's Society Cymru, commented: "Deafness is not a learning disability, so that gap shouldn't be there and we need to make sure that deaf children and young people are appropriately supported so they can reach their full potential.
"There's no reason why they should be underachieving - other than the fact they're not accessing the appropriate support."
The theme for this year's Deaf Awareness Week is 'A Celebration', with its aim being to celebrate the achievements of deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals throughout the UK.
As part of the week-long event, the charity Signhealth is encouraging people of all hearing abilities to post a selfie of themselves using sign language to spell out the first letter of their name, before posting it on social media accompanied by the hashtag #signselfie in order to raise awareness of this method of communication.
Written by James Puckle
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