There was much to celebrate at Signal in November 2018 when we received the exciting news that our application for a Big Lottery Fund Reaching Communities grant had been successful.
“We are absolutely delighted at the news,” says Catriona Nicholls, Programme Lead for Signal’s Shropshire activities. “Our plans, now secured through Big Lottery funding until October 2021, will make a real difference to people who are Deaf and for those with diagnosed or undiagnosed hearing loss across Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin.”
Looped up; Deaf Friendly Places & Spaces
The new programme is entitled “Looped up; Deaf Friendly Places & Spaces”. Catriona explains, “In December 2017, we asked people to tell us about the challenges they face as a person living with a hearing impairment, and the changes they would like to see happen within the community which would improve their quality of life.”
Hearing Loop & Deaf Awareness Audits
People living with hearing loss told Signal that a big problem is the lack of working hearing loops and good deaf awareness amongst staff within public places such as shops, community centres and churches, limiting their accessibility. So, Signal will be training teams of hearing aid wearing volunteers to carry out “Hearing Loop & Deaf Awareness Audits”. Deaf awareness training, plus hearing loop support, will be offered as a follow-up. The hope is that, over the three years of the programme, increasing numbers of public places will become more inclusive to the hearing impaired.
A programme of hearing screening will also be launched. On average, it takes people ten years to address their hearing loss. Sarah Thomas, Volunteer and Peer Support Coordinator, explains, “To interrupt this cycle earlier, Signal will conduct hearing screenings at public places, county-wide, helping people to take ownership of their hearing health and signposting them to appropriate services to access support.”
Signal’s plans also include support for the Deaf, British Sign Language (BSL) community of Shropshire. “The Deaf community told us that more social opportunities were top of their list,” explains Jo Rose, Signal’s Outreach Worker. “Greater access to information, that the hearing world takes for granted, was seen as a vital service that Signal could help to facilitate,” says Jo. With that in mind, Signal will work with the Deaf community to plan trips, excursions and experiences, and engage with experts to provide informative talks.
Signal’s hope is that the new programmes of work will result in raised awareness of hearing impairment, improved access to information and services and more people addressing their hearing health.
Headline photograph: Signal UK team members Sarah Thomas and Catriona Nicholls.