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June 8, 2004

Deaf students take on Qld govt

From: Ninemsn, Australia - Jun 8, 2004

A landmark case of two deaf children taking on the Queensland Government for a better education is back in court.

The case - which was aborted in March this year when the judge revealed he knew a key witness - resumed in Brisbane's Federal Court.

Tiahna Hurst and Ben Devlin are at the centre of a battle for more funding in state schools for deaf children.

Kim and Jon Devlin are taking the legal action, along with Gail Smith and Jeff Hurst, whose six-year-old daughter Tiahna needs a full-time interpreter at primary school at Coolum.

The Devlins, from the Sunshine Coast, are seeking $500,000 in compensation for Ben, who is aged 10 but has the reading ability of a five-year-old.

The families returned to the court for the seven day hearing of the case after fighting for the services for more than two and a half years.

Ben, who is severely deaf, attends grade six at Noosaville Primary School but is able to read only at grade one level.

His maths skills are equivalent to a grade three child despite attending the school's special education unit.

Ms Smith, who is seeking compensation for future learning needs for her daughter who is in grade one, is urging the government to teach the nationally recognised Auslan sign language system.

The legal action has the backing of the Queensland Deaf Society, which has called current services inadequate.

©AAP 2004