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March 30, 2004

Deaf kids in test case

From: The Australian - Australia - Mar 30, 2004

By Kevin Meade

THE parents of two deaf children are suing the Queensland Government for failing to properly educate their children in a case that could influence the way the deaf are taught throughout Australia.

One of the children, 11-year-old Ben Devlin of the Sunshine Coast, was intellectually normal but had reached the academic standards of a five- or six-year-old, the Federal Court in Brisbane was told yesterday.

"He doesn't understand what's going on," James Gray, counsel for Ben's parents, Kim and Jon Devlin, said in his opening address.

The Devlins are seeking compensation from the Queensland Government along with Gail Smith and Jeff Hurst, the parents of six-year-old Tiahna Hurst, a Year 1 student at a state primary school on the Sunshine Coast.

One of the key issues in the case is whether deaf children should be taught through Auslan, a nationally recognised sign language based on symbols, or signed English, a system based on the spoken language.

© The Australian