But it's clear that much more needs to be done. And what sex education they do receive is often taught using videos without subtitles. The differences have come out of different personality types and levels of self-awareness. In reality, sex is sex. Broadcast in sign language on digital TV in , the documentary revealed a remarkably uninformed attitude to sex, with several young deaf people saying they preferred not to use condoms, despite experiencing sexually transmitted infection STIs or pregnancy.
The importance of being given the language to articulate sex and relationships is backed by the NSPCC , which says: As a result, they often found out about sex through the media, talking to their friends, or direct sexual experience. Rubbena Aurangzeb-Tariq, a Deafax sex education trainer, says many communication support workers — who support deaf students in education — do not have a sufficiently high level of sign language to enable them to convey the information, and lessons are often designed to give the basics without using graphics and images that would make sense of the information for students who communicate in a visual language. Deaf teenager Ni Gallant, who is a member of the National Deaf Children's Society's youth advisory board , says that some deaf children who attend the youth group she runs in Worcestershire miss sex education classes because they meet their ToD while the rest of their class have personal and social education lessons. The charity Deafax says deaf people's lives are being put at "extreme risk" when it comes to sex education because their communication needs are not being addressed. Cosmo interviewed three deaf women about their experiences having sex in order to raise awareness of the fact that most people with disabilities enjoy, and are having, sex just like everyone else. Deafax has created a sexual health package with an emphasis on visual communication, while the charity Deafway recently set up a website called Deaf Lizards providing information in British Sign Language and English for young deaf people. A deaf woman said: I see making a distinction between the two often divides the culturally proud Deaf from those who have a similar experience and shared oppressions, but are maybe not friends with tons of Deaf people or what have you because of accessibility and other factors. Professor Wendy McCracken says that among the themes that emerge was embarrassment "for both the deaf child and the ToD, especially where signs were used as they were graphic and drew attention to the deaf child". Broadcast in sign language on digital TV in , the documentary revealed a remarkably uninformed attitude to sex, with several young deaf people saying they preferred not to use condoms, despite experiencing sexually transmitted infection STIs or pregnancy. In reality, sex is sex. They also all chose to keep their names private. The women who participated were all mid- to late-twenties either single, seeing someone, or married, and all of them were born deaf or became deaf around the age of two. The consequences of missing out on sexual education can be far-reaching. Furthermore, ToDs lacked specialist training in sex education and felt there was insufficient time to cover the subject. The differences have come out of different personality types and levels of self-awareness. But issues with sex education also affect deaf children in mainstream schools, many of whom are regularly visited by a Teacher of the Deaf ToD. And what sex education they do receive is often taught using videos without subtitles. Training materials were also seen as not being deaf friendly. However, there can also be negatives. I don't want a baby now. SignHealth's Rowena Dean says that because of missing out on information, deaf people "may have less 'socialisation' of sexual relationships" and as a result may not be as well equipped to recognise an unhealthy sexual relationship. The charity SignHealth recently set up a service called DeafHope to support deaf women and children who are victims of domestic abuse. They all instantly recognise the words Facebook, Wii and YouTube, but the words syphilis, genital warts and hepatitis ABC are met with blank expressions. A deaf BBC journalist who spent years working on See Hear, the series for deaf people, told me about a conversation that shocked him while researching a programme on sexual health. She presumed that this was simply "what I was supposed to do".
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