College students had the opportunity to meet His Honour Judge John Neligan, a retired judge who presided over trials at Exeter Crown Court.

Students asked him legal questions about staying safe on the internet, drug awareness, sexual health and how the law affects Deaf young people.

Many questions asked by students focusing on how the law affects deaf people including:

“Is the law equal for deaf and hearing people?”
“If a deaf person is handcuffed, so that their BSL (British Sign Language) communication is removed, is this a breach of their Human Rights?”
“Do deaf people have access to an interpreter for legal issues and who would fund this?”

Judge Neligan’s visit was part of a personal safety workshop held at the Academy by Exeter-based organisation, SOS Global who teach about sexual health, safe use of social media and personal safety topics.

Judge Neligan said:
“I think it’s very important that young people have access to information and education about personal safety, including how the law relates to sexual awareness and alcohol related offences. Students at the Academy have asked me a lot of sensible questions.”

Judge Neligan, who retired in 2014, has been working with SOS Global for several years. He said:
“This is the first time that I have held a discussion entirely with Deaf students.
“They have been very receptive, forwarded me intelligent questions in advance and I am glad to have been given the opportunity to have a good discussion with them today.”

Dawn Dines, CEO of SOS Global, said sessions across all schools and colleges are tailored to be Deaf aware. Board members of SOS Global include Sarah Ankers, an Occupational Therapist at the Academy.

“The aim is to be proactive about safeguarding, rather than reactive,” said Dawn. “Schools and colleges such as the Academy who host our sessions are enabling their students to consider how to be aware and make considered choices in the real world.”

Geoff Davey, Deputy Head at our College, said:
“The aim is to give our students a good awareness about keeping themselves safe and an awareness of the potential risks in society generally.
“Deaf young people are more vulnerable to some of these risks although these issues are also something that all young people should be aware of. We are helping enable our students to develop the skills that they need to stay safe.”