- Posted by: Joyce Watson MS
- Category: Feature
Mid and West Wales AM Joyce Watson has met deaf young people to learn how schools can be made more accessible to children with hearing loss.
At an event at the Welsh Assembly last week [Tuesday 17 January], organised by the National Deaf Children’s Society (NDCS) Cymru, Kurtis Olding and Daniyaal Munir, both aged 15, described to Mrs Watson how noisy, echoing classrooms make it difficult for deaf children to learn.
The Labour Assembly Member listened to classroom recordings, to hear how a room with poor acoustics can sound to a child with hearing loss.
Mrs Watson said: “Deaf children deserve every chance to achieve their full academic potential, but too many children are struggling to learn in classrooms with poor acoustics.
“I fully support the campaign to improve acoustics in schools and I am calling on other Assembly Members to sign up too, so that we succeed in putting this issue firmly on the political agenda.”
Mrs Watson is backing NDCS Cymru’s ‘Let’s Make a New Year’s Resolution that Sounds Good’ campaign, which calls on Assembly Members to sign up to a special New Year’s Resolution in support of good acoustics in new school, college and nursery buildings.
Research published by NDCS Cymru reveals that acoustic regulations for new school buildings are often ignored, leaving children across Wales struggling to learn in noisy and echoing classrooms. Less than a third of schools built in Wales between 2003 and 2010 received any input from an acoustic expert. It also shows that just 11 per cent of schools built during this time were tested to check that they met acoustic standards*.
Jayne Dulson, NDCS Cymru Director, says: “We are delighted that Joyce is supporting our campaign and that she met Kurtis and Daniyaal to better understand the challenges that deaf children face in classrooms with poor acoustics.
“Good acoustics in schools are important for all children, but particularly so for deaf children. Although many deaf children use devices such as hearing aids and cochlear implants to access sound, these become almost useless in noisy classrooms. We now need the Welsh Government take action on this important issue.”
In 2010, following calls from NDCS Cymru, the Welsh Government agreed to ensure that schools funded through its 21st Century Schools Programme would meet acoustic standards. This was great news, but only affects schools funded in this way. The charity’s campaign is now calling on the Welsh Government to go a step further and use its new powers on Building Regulations to strengthen the existing law on acoustic standards, ensuring that all new school, nursery and college buildings will sound good – regardless of how they are funded!
Poor acoustics in schools create a barrier to learning for all children, but present a particular barrier for children with a hearing loss (i). There are more than 1,700 deaf pupils in Wales (ii). Furthermore, 80 per cent of all children will experience temporary hearing loss before they reach the age of ten (iii).
For more information on the campaign, please visit www.ndcs.org.uk/nyacoustics.