Below is the text of Mr Major’s written Parliamentary Answer on Blind-Deaf Persons on 12th December 1986.
Mrs. Renée Short Asked the Secretary of State for Social Services (1) how many blind-deaf children are born each year; how many schools in England and Wales can at present offer suitable education for blind-deaf children either on a day or boarding basis; and what support for families is available when a deaf-blind child is living at home;
(2) what special training is available for teachers and carers, respectively, working with deaf-blind children; and what proposals he has to make such provision freely available for all those who need it;
(3) what training is available at present for young people who are deaf-blind to enable them to develop their skills; and if he will list the training centres at present available with the number of places in each;
(4) if he will make sufficient resources available to ensure that no blind-deaf person will have to enter a mental handicap hospital if his family can no longer care for him at home.
Mr. Major Statistics are not available in the form requested but there is a copy in the Library of the Department’s publication “Registered Blind and Partially Sighted Persons at 31 March 1982 (England).” This contains information, by age band, on people registered blind with additional handicap, including hearing impairment, but the figures are regarded as under-estimates.
The Department has made it clear in guidance issued to health and local authorities, which are the main statutory providers of services for disabled people, that services for the most vulnerable groups in the community, including sensorily impaired people, should have priority. It is for individual health and local authorities to determine local priorities in the light of their statutory responsibilities and local circumstances. The Department does not routinely collect specific information about resources and facilities provided for particular client groups.
The role of voluntary organisations, such as SENSE, with their family resource centres and training centre for deaf-blind young adults, is of particular importance. Last year the Department gave grants totalling £30,000 towards voluntary activities in this field and further applications are under consideration.
Education and teacher training are matters for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education and Science.