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April 3, 2004


From: Glasgow Daily Record, UK - Apr 3, 2004

DEAF children are struggling at school because their teachers aren't fluent in sign language.

The head of Scotland's leading school for the deaf said teachers at mainstream schools can't get their message across.

Janet Allan yesterday claimed many interpreters have only the equivalent of a low-level Standard Grade in sign language.

The head of Edinburgh's Donaldson's College said deaf pupils studying for Highers are badly hit because interpreters can't get across complex ideas.

There are 3000 children in Scotland who cannot be helped by hearing aids.

The Executive want them to be taught in mainstream schools.

Mrs Allan said: 'It is unacceptable for a deaf child to be taught by people with only a basic British Sign Language.

'It is the equivalent of a hearing child going to a school in France and having a translator who barely speaks English.

'At Higher level, there is also a difficulty with the subject matter that is taught.

'It depends on the intellectual abilities of the interpreter. If they don't understand a concept, how does the pupil stand a chance?'

Many interpreters only have level one BSL. Mrs Allan believes they should have level two the equivalent of a degree if they are to help schoolchildren.

British Deaf Association chief executive Jeff McWhinney said mainstream schools often don't address deaf children's language needs. He added: 'All too often the outcome has been a second-class education.'

© 2004 Glasgow Daily Record