Government budget cuts have seen Bexley Council cut £220,000 from the SFA Adult Safeguarded Learning funding stream for Adult Education College Bexley. As a result course costs have risen dramatically, with the cost of lip-reading classes at the college nearly tripling from £25 to £72. This has meant many people who are deaf or hard of hearing have been unable to take this important course.
Last week it emerged that following the inevitable reduction in numbers, the courses are no longer considered financially viable and have now been withdrawn. People enquiring about the course are being told to leave their details in case they are re-introduced in the future.
“I think it’s wrong that people who need to learn lip-reading will no longer be able to take the course at their local college. Lip-reading is vital to the quality of life for people who are deaf or hard of hearing and their families. I don’t think it should be put in the same funding category as classes people take for leisure.
“This week I have written to the Skills Minister John Hayes to urge him to re-classify lip-reading as an essential skill or sensory support service for the purposes of skills funding. These courses give deaf people and people who are hard of hearing the basic skill of communication. It is not fair to deny them this ability and I want funding for lip-reading classes to be ring-fenced.”
Teresa has alerted Action on Hearing Loss, formerly RNID, about the situation in Bexley and this will feed into national research they are currently conducting into the declining provision of lip-reading classes.