'˜It means so much - it's equality for deaf people'

The founder of a deaf charity based in Dungiven said they're seeing an increase in the demand from front line services and businesses for deaf awareness training.

Friday, 31st March 2017, 9:18 am
Updated Tuesday, 9th May 2017, 7:00 pm
Participants at the deaf awareness evening run by Tesco and Hands That Talk.

Hands That Talk serves the wider North West area and one of its aims has been to increase deaf awareness among front line services, and in the wider community.

The Dungiven-based organisation, which can boast of the first deaf-owned premises in Northern Ireland, was established in 2000 to provide holistic support those who are deaf or hard of hearing in the North West. As well as offering support programmes, the charity also aims to promote social integration between the hearing and non-hearing communities.

Founder, Dorothy Hegarty said while it’s taken a long time for people to become aware “it’s been worthwhile.” The charity has delivered training locally in GPs, dentists and opticians, Altnagelvin hospital, local council offices, churches and Roe Valley Leisure Centre, said Mrs. Hegarty. She said that type of training and awareness makes a huge difference.

“It gives them confidence. It’s equality for deaf people, it’s their right,” said Mrs. Hegarty.

Recently, Hands That Talk delivered an introductory sign language course to Tesco, Limavady and members of the wider community, with attendees learning everything from basic greetings to everyday questions.

Mags Connolly, community champion at Tesco in Limavady, said: “Now we can confidently greet sign language users with the basic signs we learned at our training session. More than just teaching us every day words and phrases, Hands That Talk also helped us better understand the challenges faced by the non-hearing community every day, so we can be more mindful of this in store and out in the community.”

Ann Owens of Hands that Talk said: “As a deaf and hearing organisation, we believe that our work with the population at large is vital when it comes to improving social integration between the hearing and non-hearing communities and it’s great to see a local business like Tesco back our efforts.”

Hands That Talk will hold deaf awareness training in Dungiven from 7-9pm on April 11. Call 777 42776 for more.