We celebrated this year’s UK Deaf Awareness Week by staging a jam-packed Deaf Awareness Day in Signal: The Hub in May.
Alongside the organised activities, it was encouraging to see more people dropping in from the street to get their hearing checked “earlier rather than later” with our hearing screening device. As usual, The Hub Manager Paul was on hand, too, offering information and guidance to visitors as well as emotional support to people with newly identified hearing loss.
We were delighted to be able to spread the message of deaf awareness even further, thanks to BBC Radio Shropshire. Reporter Ian joined in tutor Sally’s lip reading taster session, before putting together a thoughtful piece on some of the issues facing people with hearing loss. Ian also reported on the work of The Hub to help build deaf friendly communities.
Volunteer Mary then led a fascinating introduction to British Sign Language (BSL), where we learned finger spelling, signs for all the colours and, in very British style, how to talk about the rain! Practitioner Louise followed on after lunch, by introducing some mindfulness techniques. These can help with relaxation and can be useful for people living with conditions like tinnitus and hearing loss.
Through the day there was a focus on assistive technology. Sharon from supplier Oticon was able to chat with a number of visitors about streamers, which channel sound from electronic equipment to people’s hearing aids and can help people with hearing loss get by in everyday situations which others may take for granted. Meanwhile, Anwar from supplier Braci impressed the crowds with a demonstration of the company’s new sound recognition platform.
It was a privilege to have such a variety of people taking part in the awareness day. A big thank you goes to all Signal’s volunteers and partners who helped make it such a success. The Shropshire Deaf and Hard of Hearing Forum was out in force (pictured in headline photo), as was the Shropshire Rural Community Council and its volunteers. The training that the local NHS Audiology department has given to staff and volunteers was put to good use over the day, too.
We were also delighted to welcome visitors from Healthwatch Shropshire, Erica from Shrewsbury Hard of Hearing Group and Katie from Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service. Katie found time to give a short fire safety talk to members of the Deaf community, who had come from around the county for a coffee morning at The Hub and to support the awareness raising activities.
Karen at the Makaton friendly Links Café, housed within The Hub, was run off her feet supplying drinks and sandwiches to the visitors and volunteers, as well as to her regular customers. So a big thank you goes to Karen, too.
All in all it was a most enjoyable and informative day!