Wed. Dec 6th, 2023

A UK Government consultation into proposed reforms to special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) provision has finally come with a British Sign Language (BSL) version – almost six weeks since it opened.

The delayed outcomes of the SEND Review, launched in 2019, were published in March, but the Department for Education received criticism from disability charities for BSL and easy read formats not being immediately available.

In a update shared on Monday, the DfE said: “[We have] added a version of ‘SEND review: right support, right place, right time’ in British sign language and easy-read format, as well as a guide to the SEND review for children and young people.

“We have also extended the consultation closing date to 23:45 on 22 July, to give participants time to use the new materials and submit their responses.”

It comes after Will Quince MP, the Children and Families Minister, told Labour MP Helen Hayes on 28 April that the BSL version of the green paper would be available “in April 2022”.

Three days earlier, the Tory minister told the campaigning group Special Needs Jungle on Twitter “the team is working as quickly as possible to make accessible versions available in the coming days”.

The BSL version was finally made available on 9 May 2022.

Commenting on the format finally being made available, Ian Noon of the National Deaf Children’s Society (NDCS) said: “This is very welcome news because the SEND review consultation could radically change deaf education. If it excludes anyone, there’s a real risk that the new SEND system won’t meet everyone’s needs.

“Now the consultation is fully accessible and the deadline has been extended, all deaf children, young people and parents can have their say, however they choose to communicate.”

The BSL versions of the consultation can be found on the GOV.UK website.

By Liam O’Dell. Liam is a mildly deaf freelance journalist and campaigner from Bedfordshire. He wears bilateral hearing aids and can be found talking about disability, theatre, politics and more on Twitter and on his website.

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