UK Parliament: Lipreading & Sign Language are not skills for life

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at
Fri Jun 22 12:25:28 UTC 2007

 Parliament: Lipreading & Sign Language are not skills for life

It seems that politicians are experts at not getting it. The latest from the
House of Commons is that lipreading classes and learning sign language is
not a skill for life. This obviously comes down to funding, not being
classed as a 'basic skill' affects how a course is funded. Deaf people in
other words have to pay.

*Jamie Reed (PPS (Mr Tony McNulty, Minister of State), Home Office,
Copeland, Labour)*

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if he will classify
the teaching of lip reading and sign language as a basic skill for those
with impaired hearing.

*Parmjit Dhanda (Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Education and

We recognise the importance of lip reading and sign language for the deaf
and hard of hearing. Lip reading and sign language are eligible for LSC
funding but do not form part of the Government's "Skills for Life"
definition of provision commonly referred to as 'basic skills' as they are
not mapped to the national literacy and numeracy standards.

The majority of the cost of learning is supported by public funds, but the
learner is also expected to contribute to the cost unless certain conditions
apply: for example, learners on income-related benefits are eligible for fee
remission, as are learners aged 16 to 18 years; and individual providers may
choose to waive a full fee or charge a reduced fee. Some providers also have
'access funds' that they are able to make available to individuals to help
with the costs of a course. In 2004/05 lip reading classes were free to more
than 80 per cent. of learners either as a result of national policy or at
the discretion of the provider.

 This is obviously a strict and narrow definition, and who said that access
to communication cannot be literacy? They are basic skills to survive in
life, no? From a BSL recognition viewpoint this is an interesting one. Had
the language been Welsh, there would be a right to call this a basic skill,
because Welsh is on par with the English language here. The BSL recognition
we have in the UK is nothing short of tokenistic bullshit.

*Source: *Hansard<>,
They Work for You<>

*Update in Plain English:* In the UK English and Maths courses in adult
education are free. The government classes them as essential or basic
skills. The question above, asked if lipreading classes or BSL classes could
be an essential or a 'skill for life' / basic skill for deaf people, and
thus free. Parliament said no, it is not a basic skill or a life skill for
deaf people. Deaf people are expected to pay for course costs. In Wales,
Welsh language courses are a basic skill, because of the status of the
language. i.e. Welsh courses in Wales are free. We don't have the same
language status for BSL, so can't apply the same reasoning. Why this is, is
another story.
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