Thursday, February 11, 2010

Support Service for Hearing Impaired Closes

Support Service for Hearing Impaired Closes

A specialist service that provides support to students with hearing disabilities will close this week – just before the start of the new academic year.

The Advance Centre for Deaf and Hearing-Impaired Students works with tertiary students with hearing disabilities, helping them settle into university and polytechnic life, access services and note-takers, and helping Deaf students get access to sign language interpreters.

Life Unlimited, which managed the service, confirmed the centre would close on Friday.

Jessica Lissaman, National Manager Hearing Services of Life Unlimited, is disappointed the centre is closing.

“We were so committed to it that despite government funding ending on December 31, LIFE Unlimited kept on funding it from its own resources in the hope that further funding would come through,” she said.

“That hasn’t happened, and the service co-ordinator will finish work this Friday.”

Louise Carroll, General Manager of the National Foundation for the Deaf, which supported the campaign to keep the centre running was concerned at how students at Auckland’s tertiary education centres would cope now.

“The service was set up because there was a need for specialist help and support for students with hearing disabilities,” she said.

“That need hasn’t gone away just because the government has decided to stop the funding.”

Ms Lissaman said the centre, which began in 2004, was endorsed by an independent review in 2006, which also recommended the service be extended nationwide.

While the service was provided for use by Auckland tertiary students, students from universities and polytechnics in other parts of the country are known to have accessed the centre’s website for information and support material.

The annual budget was $89,000 + GST, and the announcement that funding would end, saw students protest outside Prime Minister John Key’s electorate office in Helensville in December.

Ms Lissaman said hearing-impaired and Deaf students would not be left “high and dry” but would now have to rely on support from disability co-ordinators at the university and polytechnics.