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June 1, 2005

Deaf boy seeks $50,000 compensation

From: Melbourne Herald Sun, Australia - Jun 1, 2005

Kate Uebergang, tribunal reporter

A PROFOUNDLY deaf child who struggled for years in the classroom is seeking more than $50,000 compensation from the Education Department.

Dylan Beasley, 13, claims he suffered humiliation, anxiety and stress while a student at Pearcedale Primary School between 1999 and 2003. Dylan, who has been deaf since birth, communicates using a sign language called Auslan.

During his three years at Pearcedale, Dylan was taught by eight teachers and sign language interpreters, but claims none could adequately communicate in Auslan.

Instead, the youngster, now in Year 8 at Mount Erin Secondary College, was taught mainly with spoken, written and signed English -- which he finds almost impossible to understand.

Dylan's mother Robyn Beasley, who is also deaf, has filed a discrimination claim on his behalf at the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

Mrs Beasley said her son just wanted the same standard of education as his classmates.

"Dylan was very frustrated at not being able to understand teachers," she said.

"He missed out on a lot due to having no Auslan instruction in the classroom. For example, if there was any discussing in a group, he missed out on the vital issues."

Mrs Beasley said the school had even used the mother of another deaf child as a volunteer interpreter for her son.

"The department is only thinking of saving money," she said.

"They don't realise they won't save -- due to the poor future of the deaf children attending schools. Without interpreters, the language is very difficult, and they can't be at the same standard as hearing children."

Lawyer James Gray said the Beasley family had not decided on a precise compensation figure yet, but said they would claim more than $50,000.

The family also wants the department to provide remedial academic and linguistic education.

Last year the Beasley family successfully fought an Education Department attempt to have their case dismissed before hearing.

An Education Department spokesman said it had "delivered the best education practices to suit Dylan's needs, but because the matter is before VCAT it would be inappropriate for the department to comment further".

© Herald and Weekly Times