The All Party Parliamentary Group on Deafness held their Annual General Meeting on 16 January 2017.
The minutes of the meeting can be viewed here.
Details of previous meetings held in Parliament can also be viewed here.
We have today sent a briefing to MPs calling for the Government to work towards a nationwide public health campaign on deafness and hearing loss.
We have prepared the briefing for the Parliamentary debate next week on the NHS Action Plan on Hearing Loss [PDF] and the adult hearing service commissioning framework
The debate was called by Jim Fitzpatrick MP, the chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Deafness. It is at 3pm on Thursday 30 June in Westminster Hall.
Jim Edwards, chair of the UK Council on Deafness, said: “After much discussion with our members, we are agreed a nationwide public health campaign is in all our interests.
“The idea was first suggested by the common purpose awareness mission group. It was then endorsed by the common purpose steering group, our Board, the Hearing Loss and Deafness Alliance, and our members who regularly attend APPG meetings.
“The common thread in all the things we are working on is the need for greater awareness. The public needs a better understanding of the impact of deafness and hearing loss. People who are deaf or have a hearing loss need better awareness of the services and other support available to them, and their rights. Hearing people need better awareness of how to protect their hearing and what to do if they start to experience a hearing loss. And government needs a better understanding of the impact of its policies on people who are deaf or have a hearing loss.
“A campaign will encourage people to take control of their life by having their hearing tested by their GP or provider of audiology services. It will urge them not to let deafness and hearing loss become a barrier to them being involved in education, employment, politics, community activity – all elements of society.
“And all our members will be able to use the campaign as a springboard, whether they are focused on increasing the number of lipspeaking classes, equal access for sign language users, or helping more deaf young people benefit from cochlear implants.
“We know there are challenges ahead. Public health budgets have been devolved and there are many competing health priorities. But the number of people who are deaf or have a hearing loss is in the millions and constantly rising. The NHS England Action Plan on Hearing Loss recognises the enormous personal, social and economic impact of untreated hearing loss. And The Ear Foundation estimates that economic cost to be £30bn a year.
“So if we stay committed to our common purpose and work together, it’s definitely something we can achieve.”
The APPG on Deafness, chaired by Jim Fitzpatrick MP, has secured a 90 minute debate on deafness and hearing loss in Westminster Hall at 3pm on Thursday 30 June.
Please tell the MPs you know about the debate, and encourage them to attend and speak. This is a great opportunity for us to make sure the government is aware of the range of issues faced by people who are deaf or have a hearing loss.
The motion for the debate is “that this House has considered the NHS England Action Plan on Hearing Loss and the new adult hearing service commissioning framework”. The framework is due to be published soon.
The debate will also be an opportunity to discuss issues of deafness and hearing loss in general, such as support into education and employment, and access for sign language users. For example, the Life Chances Strategy launched by the Prime Minister in January 2016 talked about the importance of support for families, education, and health and social care in supporting self reliance. Deaf people still face many barriers to accessing these services.
We are preparing a briefing for MPs ahead of the debate. While we know our members will be preparing their own, please feel free to tell us what you think should be included.
Jim Fitzpatrick MP was today elected char of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Deafness at an extraordinary general meeting. The vote became necessary after the previous chair, Lilian Greenwood MP, was appointed Shadow Secretary of State for Transport. One of Jim’s first aims as chair is to secure a Westminster Hall debate on NHS provision of hearing aids. Clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) have been considering proposals to ration provision.
Lilian Greenwood, the Labour Member of Parliament for Nottingham South, has been elected chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Deafness.
Lilian said: “I’m delighted to have been elected to this role and look forward to leading the group in an ambitious programme of work.
“Many government policies are having an impact on people who are deaf or have a hearing loss. We need to make sure they are levelling the playing field, not making it harder for people to succeed.”
Lilian was elected at the first meeting of the group since the general election. Three vice chairs were also elected: the Lord Shipley OBE (Liberal Democrat), Neil Carmichael MP (Conservative) and Ian Mearns MP (Labour).
Despite several of its members losing their seat at the election, the Group is now larger, with 17 MPs and five Lords.
The Group also discussed its work programme for the year. Top of the list is to support Action on Hearing Loss’ Subtitle It! campaign to bring subtitles to on demand television and film. The Group will also
The Group will also hold an inquiry into the cost of minority language status for British Sign Language (BSL). It wants to understand the economic, social and personal costs of not recognising a language indigenous to the UK, and what it would mean to the country if the government ratified the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages with respect to BSL.