We are a deaf-led charity and company limited by guarantee established in 1994, which supports deaf children and young people in the UK by providing information about their education and social care needs. The charity was set up because two deaf people who had attended mainstream education were marginalised in the Deaf community, where most attended signing Deaf school. Being born profoundly and severely deaf it is not easy to fit into hearing communities, effectively putting mainstreamed deaf people in limbo between Deaf and hearing cultures. We provide advice to government organisations on how to improve the quality of education, safeguarding and life chances for deaf children of all levels of hearing loss. We facilitate and work closely with deaf young people to support them in making the difficult transition into adulthood in a wide range of ways: training, advocacy and social opportunities. The deaf youth group's committee meets regularly to gather feedback from the other members: they can sign their views in BSL videos or short message on their WhatsApp Group and Facebook page. Committee reps report to DEX Deaf Board meetings. The Calderdale Deaf Youth Project is being monitored by the freelance Project Manager with the Chair, and reports on feedback from the CDYH.
We are proud of our work since deaf mainstream educated people are hard-to-reach, and particularly those with diverse ethnicity. Over the last five years, following on from our user-led audit and participation work, we have focussed on working directly with deaf young school-leavers and those aged up to thirty years with four successful projects, initially funded by the Department for Education.
This deaf and deafblind members called themselves the DEX Deaf Youth Council (DDYC), and the group is becoming more self-determinate, with its most recent Project Coordinators being drawn from the deaf young membership. Approximately forty deaf young people have benefitted from our intensive group work support, which involves a wide variety of lifelong learning: e.g. Deaf heritage and writing and producing a play; healthy living and wellbeing and deaf services; Deaf Citizenship course in which eight members from fifteen opted to be assessed and passed. Our work is vital since deaf children miss a great deal of information.
Our casework has also involved supporting and advocating for the DDYC members with complex issues, such as employment and higher education applications, referral to specialist mental health service; appeal against deportation to Pakistan, supporting with lack of benefits and employment support for deaf young man from the EU, relationships and sexuality issues including coming out as a married Muslim, assisting a deaf young person with AIDS. Many of the DDYC members are male Muslims, who travel from throughout West and South Yorkshire, with newer recruits from Newcastle and Durham. New youth work has also been commissioned by the Calderdale Deaf Association for DEX to develop the Calderdale Deaf Youth Hub (CDYH), membership of which is aged from 12 to 25 years, and plans are envisaged for the older age group to become involved with the DDYC.