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Deafax’s campaign: Education & Advice on Relationships & Sex

Deafax calls on schools and medical service providers to give deaf people Education & Advice on Relationships & Sex (E.A.R.S).

Deafax are launching a campaign on 28th March 2012 to call on schools, teachers and medical service providers to supply adequate sex education and sexual health care for deaf people.

Research into deafness and sexual health is extremely rare and almost completely overlooked. Deafax are pioneers in this area, carrying out in depth research within the deaf community and uncovering shocking results.

Out of a sample of profoundly and prelingually deaf mothers, 87% of which were British Sign Language users, only 17% received sex education in a ‘deaf-friendly’ way at school with 33% gaining information from friends and family and another 33% with no information at all. The remaining 17% received non deaf-friendly sex education at school. 1/3 of young women interviewed were under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of conception and many were unaware of walk-in clinics or heard of bad experiences when staff couldn’t understand the deaf person.

Medical service providers mistakenly assume that written material (leaflets, booklets, websites) are suitable to relay health information to the deaf community.

On 1st October 2010, the Equality Act stated that it is a legal requirement for all service providers to make provision for the needs of deaf and hard of hearing people.

Yet research reveals that deaf mothers-to-be are generally unable to access antenatal classes and their midwives are not ‘deaf aware’ or trained on the best ways to communicate with a deaf person.

Information on maternity leave and benefits entitled to them are not passed on and deaf mothers say they feel isolated and have no communication with health visitors.

Out of all the health trusts Deafax spoke to, just one had a midwife who could sign, she had funded her own training.

100% of those who took part in the study believed that the level of service is not the same for both deaf and hearing expectant mothers.

In response, Deafax are launching a Sexual Health Package, tailored for deaf students and teachers to deliver invaluable information on safe sex and STIs to deaf students, using communication methods to suit individual needs.

Deafax have also developed training packages for teachers of the deaf in the field of sex education and deaf awareness workshops for mainstream organisations. They are asking all those in the deaf community to contribute to this under-researched area by completing this survey – so that service providers and schools can no longer overlook the needs of deaf people.

Deafax are also conducting new research for deaf people which is confidential and anonymous; please go online

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