Angry students have protested outside county hall to try to save vital lip-reading classes from being axed.

About 30 people stood outside Essex County Council's headquarters in Chelmsford on Tuesday with placards and gags over their mouths to vent frustration at the increasing cost of the classes.

Changes to funding have led to the cost of the 30-week course - which was free until 2004 - rising to £64 and now £186 over the last three years, making it too expensive for many.

The increase is due to the concessions for over-60s being axed and lip-reading no longer being classified as a basic skill.

The protest was organised by the RNID, the largest charity for people who are deaf and hard-of-hearing in the UK, to call on the council to address the lack of funding for classes in Essex, particularly as Norfolk and Cambridgeshire still offer free lessons.

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