Deaf Academy student Charlotte Tait delivered an impactful speech recently at a conference for professionals who support people with learning difficulties and disabilities. 

The 18-year-old spoke powerfully about how her specialist education at the Academy has supported her learning journey. 

Experts and educators attending the Natspec conference in Manchester heard how Charlotte’s move from mainstream education to the Deaf Academy four years ago was a ‘game changer’. Previously, she experienced anxiety because of her needs not being met, but now she is achieving many significant milestones. 

NatSpec is a membership association for organisations that offer specialist further education for students with learning difficulties and/or disabilities. Their annual conference brings together experts, educators and advocates to discuss and promote the best practices in specialist education. 

Charlotte told the audience that the main barrier for her in a mainstream setting was the lack of understanding from specialist advisors and her local authority, who insisted that a ‘special unit’ in a local school would be enough to cater for her needs. 

Charlotte, from Cornwall, became worried about her future, and her anxiety began to impact her relationships with family and friends.  

After a long battle with the local authorities to approve her placement, Charlotte joined the Deaf Academy in 2020. She is now successfully finishing her second year of college, has obtained her full driver’s license, earned a Level 1 Agricultural Award and completed Levels 1,2 and 3 in British Sign Language. The Deaf Academy has also been supportive of the humanitarian voluntary work that she does with her dad to get aid to Ukrainian refugees in Poland. 

Charlotte’s speech at NatSpec was not her first time public speaking. She previously presented at Truro Cathedral, a testament to the significant growth in her confidence since being supported by the Deaf Academy. 

NatSpec employee Kirsten attended the event and was moved by Charlotte’s speech. She expressed her gratitude in an email, writing: ‘A huge thank you to Charlotte, her mum and everyone at the Deaf Academy for everything they have done to make Charlotte’s speech at our conference happen! Her speech was perfect, and we are hugely grateful that she was willing to share her story with us.’