Deaf rally against cuts to services

THE Illawarra's deaf residents have come out swinging over TAFE cuts to services and courses.

They are the latest group to criticise the state government's lack of funding for vital courses.

In recent weeks a number of deaf students have turned to the Deaf Society of NSW to express their disappointment and anger with local TAFEs not providing them fair access to courses.

South Coast Outreach support worker Sara Willyan-Payne said students have been denied note-takers, which had previously been provided, and have been put at a huge disadvantage compared to their hearing peers this year.

"Deaf people need to be able to watch a speaker to lip read them or watch an interpreter, so they cannot make their own notes at the same time, unlike people who hear, who can listen and write notes at the same time," she said.

Ms Willyan-Payne said the Deaf Society has recommended all deaf students with these issues to make complaints to their TAFE directly, and have supported some who have wanted to write letters to their local MP asking for support.

"They are very upset with the latest developments," she said.

"This is evident in their comments to me and in letters to their local MPs."

Ms Willyan-Payne said one student commented, "I will be unable to fulfil my dream", while another said, "I am very disappointed to be told that TAFE will no longer be providing note-takers for deaf people".

Next Monday, an information session about TAFE cuts and the Smart and Skilled reform, which is due to come out next year, will take place at the Deaf Society of NSW's South Coast Office at 210 Shellharbour Road, Warrawong (in the Disability Trust building).

The reform includes a 10 per cent loading for students with disabilities, the loading providing their access needs.

"This loading will in no way be adequate and it appears the cuts to resources have come much earlier," Ms Willyan-Payne said.

"These cuts look like they will affect many people with various disabilities."

The information session runs from 11am-1pm.

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