BATOD
The British Association of Teachers of the Deaf
Promoting Excellence in Deaf Education

Deaf Parenting - a meeting of Healthy Deaf Minds

This article first appeared in the November/December 2001 issue of the BATOD Association Magazine

An audience of over 70 deaf parents, deaf people planning to be parents and professionals working with deaf families attended the HDM meeting in October.

Sabina Chowdry described her study called: 'Deaf Parenting: raising a child, an initial study on Deaf parents with children aged 0-11yrs in San Francisco, USA'. The dissertation explored the perspectives of Deaf parents and their experiences of raising a child. Many reported the lack of access to support and services they needed during their pregnancy and whilst raising their children. They turned to their parents or immediate family for support and felt very isolated. They said they wished to see more support group and information developed for Deaf parents.

There were thoughtful contributions from the audience confirming many of Sabina’s findings. Deaf people may not know how to complain when they get poor service. A BDA spokesman said that the BDA was providing training to groups of deaf people about how to do this. The BDA had also launched their new Helpline - with access via textphone, videophone, fax, etc. The BDA also had a counselling service for deaf people.

Sabina is now working with DPPI (Disability, Pregnancy and Parenting International) http://www.dppi.org.uk an organisation providing information, resources and support to Disabled Parents.

DPPI has supported Sabina's research project and based on the evidence, they recognise the gap in services for Deaf parents and have set up a new project: ‘Deaf Parenting Project’.

The project is aimed to identify the gaps in services in UK and to set up an information pack for Deaf parents and professionals as well as support for Deaf parents. Sabina thinks that this information should be shared at Healthy Deaf Minds, especially when many Deaf parents in UK report a lack of support from many agencies in UK and the lack of Deaf awareness by many health professionals and poor attitudes about Deaf parents’ ability to be a parent!

‘Deaf Parenting’ - an email discussion group was re-launched at the end of August 2001 (after originally being set up in November as part of Sabina's research project) and now has 52 members. To join send a blank email to email Deafparenting-subscribe@yahoogroups.com or contact Sabina directly on sabina.chowdry@rocketmail.com

Sabina has managed to obtain a small grant to produce an information video about Deaf parents and their personal experience of their pregnancy and the early stage of their parenthood. This will include information and awareness about gaps in services such as lack of deaf awareness in health services, no communication support etc and their advice for future Deaf parents. This video will benefit both Deaf parents and Health professionals who come into contact with Deaf parents. Anyone wishing to share experiences/info as deaf parents should contact Sabina (email address above). It is hoped that the video will be produced by March/April 2002.

RNID has funding to produce a book on deaf women and their pregnancy which include personal stories from deaf mothers and their pregnancy with contributions from their partners and their families. The book will also include a resources list where deaf parents can go for further info/advice. RNID is recruiting a researcher to carry out the interviews with Deaf parents for the book. For further information contact Sabina or Gillian Kirby on Gillian.kirby@rnid.org.uk

This valuable and well attended meeting, under the auspices of the British Society for Mental Health & Deafness, was supported by Brent Deaf People's Group.

Roger Beeson

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