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May 4, 2005

Deaf Awareness week

From:, UK - May 4, 2005

The General Election isn’t the only thing happening in the first week of May because 2nd - 8th May is Deaf Awareness Week and organisations working with deaf people across the country are inviting local candidates to ‘Look At Me’. The theme aims to improve understanding of the different types of deafness by highlighting the many different methods of communication used by deaf, deafened, deafblind and hard of hearing people, such as sign language and lipreading.

There are 8.7 million deaf or hard of hearing people in the UK, that is 1 in 7 of the total population. Deaf people often feel excluded from the political system and all political parties must do more to engage with this significant proportion of the electorate. Deaf Awareness Week is a unique awareness campaign bringing together nearly 100 deaf charities and organisations under the umbrella of the UK Council on Deafness.

The campaign week will also be celebrating the proactive access policies implemented by major UK companies and organisations to ensure that deaf and hard of hearing people are treated fairly and have equal access. B & Q, Royal Shakespeare Company, Birmingham International Airport, The Greater London Authority, Sadler's Wells, Lloyd's TSB and University of Wolverhampton are just a few participating in the week to offer useful examples for others to follow.

The World health organisation estimates that:
• 250 million people in the world have disabling hearing impairment (moderate or worse hearing impairment in the better ear, see: Grades of hearing impairment)
• Two-thirds of these people live in developing countries.
• Half of deafness and hearing impairment is avoidable.
• Adult-onset hearing loss ranks 15th amongst the leading causes of the Global Burden of Disease (GBD), and 2nd in the leading causes of Years Lived with a Disability (YLD).
• 2 babies are born every day with significant permanent hearing loss
• 840 babies are born deaf every year, meaning around 1 in every 1,000 children are born with profound to severe hearing loss
• 90% of children are born into families with no previous experience of deafness
• 81% of parents never learn to communicate effectively with their deaf child
• Deafness in itself is not a learning difficulty but late diagnosis can severely impair development of communication skills. An undiagnosed deaf three year old will only know 25 words, whereas a hearing child of the same age will have a vocabulary of 700 words
• 1million children under eight experience glue ear
• The majority of deaf children leave school at age 16 with a reading age of nine
• Employers are eight times more likely to employ someone with a criminal record than someone who is deaf

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