National attention was focussed on what it means to live with hearing loss during UK Deaf Awareness Week in May. Signal marked the week by staging a jam-packed day of activities at Signal: The Hub in Shrewsbury. These aimed to make people consider the week’s theme, “connect and communicate”.
The Hub’s model is to be a beacon right in the town centre for anybody looking for information or services related to hearing loss. It also draws in people who have not previously thought about hearing loss.
Through the day, it was encouraging to see people dropping in to get their hearing checked “earlier rather than later” using our hearing screening device. One man was cajoled inside by his sister. His screening indicated that he would benefit from a follow-up appointment with an audiologist – The Hub Manager Paul was on hand to arrange this.
Members of the public enjoyed the chance to join a lip reading session. Tutor Sally wrote a sentence on the board, leaving some words blank, and guided participants to fill in the gaps by following her lip movements. This highlighted how useful lip reading can be, but also the extra effort that people with hearing loss put in to keep up with conversations.
Practitioner Louise introduced mindfulness techniques too. These can promote relaxation and help manage conditions like tinnitus. People trying out “mindful walking” were encouraged to become grounded, reflecting upon physical movements, and taking away their attention from troublesome thoughts and feelings.
Learn a new language and get a new soul
– Czech proverb
Volunteer Mary led a fascinating taster session on British Sign Language (BSL), where participants learned finger spelling, signs for all the colours and, in very British style, how to talk about the rain!
Sign language is a lively, visual language with hand movements, posture and even facial expressions conveying meaning. Increasing public familiarity with sign language promotes understanding of the culture of the deaf community and helps profoundly deaf people feel included in the wider community.
World attention will soon be focussed on deafness and hearing loss during International Week of the Deaf in September. This year the week will centre on sign language and language development for deaf children.
Signal will start up a beginners’ course in BSL for adult learners at Signal: The Hub in September. Do get in touch if you are interested in taking part!
Did you know?
In the European Union 23 official spoken languages and 31 sign languages have been documented (2010).