Students and staff at the Deaf Academy in Exmouth have launched a fundraising appeal to help pay for a safe road crossing outside their premises.

The Deaf young people, of whom most have additional needs, have been campaigning to improve road safety along Douglas Avenue after the Academy relocated from Exeter in 2020.

Now East Devon’s Highways and Traffic Committee has approved plans to install a £100,000 puffin crossing on the busy stretch by the Academy gates. However, the Academy must raise £30,000 towards this cost.

This is because the council had originally budgeted for a regular crossing, but the costlier puffin crossing will be much safer for Deaf users. It will include high friction road surfacing and advanced warning signing on both approaches. It will also have visual, tactile and audible pedestrian indicators to help users cross safely. The funding agreement is the result of a carefully negotiated agreement between the Academy and the county council.

The new crossing will make a big difference to the day-to-day lives of of the Academy’s students.  Many of them are residential and stay either on the main site or at its post-19 centre 10 minutes’ walk away. They enjoy going into town and to the beach, developing skills for independent living. Younger students take part in regular activities for their citizenship projects, such as beach litter picking. Older students participate in local events, take up work experience opportunities and deliver their Deaf Awareness workshops to local businesses and community organisations.

Principal Sylvan Dewing said: “It is particularly important to have this crossing to ensure students can confidently and safely engage in activities and be a valuable part of the town.

“The Academy is located on a busy road, making this initiative particularly important. Our students need longer to check if it is safe to cross, so a controlled signalling crossing is vital. It will of course also provide a safe crossing for local residents and visitors and we are delighted that the Highways and Transport Committee is supporting this initiative.”

Deaf student Abi, aged 14, said: “This crossing will make life a lot easier and help us to feel more independent going into town.”

Her classmate Fraser, aged 16, agreed: “It will make us safer. Please help us raise the money for the crossing.”

The Academy is a registered charity and much of its work relies on fundraising. It has created a JustGiving page where people can make donations to this project. Thanks to a recent legacy from a generous supporter, the Academy’s Trustees are in a position to match every pound donated to this fundraising page, so the value of any donation will be doubled.

To donate to the new puffin crossing, visit the Deaf Academy's JustGiving page.