Deaf children's society expands

The National Deaf Children's Society is set to become a global organisation for deaf children with an international arm, an office in India and a new website.

The new arm, the International Deaf Children's Society, launches this week along with a website, www.idcs.info, and has come about as a "coordinated response to the huge number of requests for support we've been getting from across the world" said Joanne Ayres, International Development officer for the society.

The international arm will kick off in India early next year but will ultimately embrace the whole of the developing world, she said. The society is already the largest organisation in the world working on behalf of parents of deaf children and over the past few years has increasingly taken on consultancy work for groups overseas, including countries as far flung as Lithuania and Uganda.

Now it hopes to join up with international NGOs and community groups to close the gaps in provision for deaf children.

"There is no single international body dedicated to bringing together parents with deaf children, those working on their behalf, and others who share an interest," said chief executive Susan Daniels. "Yet there is arguably no better resourced organisation than NDCS."

Over the past six months the organisation has consulted with aid agencies, including Save the Children and Christian Aid, to determine the scope for collaboration. Although many agencies do limited work with deaf children, as broad-based agencies they cannot "understand the issues of communication and support" like the society can, said Daniels.

In future, development agencies might refer clients and projects to the society, which would not impose any services from the UK, but fund and train existing NGOs and parents' groups, said Ayres.

The organisation chose India to start off its international work because the country already has a well-developed network of NGOs with which it can link up and learn from, she added.

A disability consultant has been commissioned to map out areas of need in India, and the charity has consulted extensively with deaf-blind organisation Sense International over how to set itself up.

An Indian office employing one development manager could run on an income of £25,000 a year, but the charity may decide that basing itself with a partner organisation is more appropriate, said Ayres.

The international focus means the society can now globalise its fundraising and tap into aid budgets. It has a well-developed challenge events fundraising programme in the UK, running trips to South America and the Middle East.

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