Council adopts Sign Language charter and will look at signing proceedings in future

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Council officers are to investigate the possibility of relaying the proceedings of Derry City & Strabane District Council in sign language.

Councillors mandated the move by backing an Alliance motion that called on the local authority to “sign up to the British/Irish Sign Language charter” and look at the possibility of signing meetings.

“According to Action on Hearing Loss there are 16,000 people in the Foyle area who are affected by hearing loss,” said Alliance’s Philip McKinney.

DUP Alderman Ryan McCready said it was important to break down communication barriers for citizens.

“We take it for granted when we walk through this city. When we are in our own homes and communities we have conversations. It’s second nature. We don’t think about it,” he said.

The SDLP’s Martin Reilly said: “Regardless of what time committees meet, if people are not able to hear, to participate fully in the meeting, then that raises its own issues.”

Sinn Féin’s Aileen Mellon said: “We believe in a rights-based society for everyone...and we want to build on that rights-based society. The BSL/ISL charter is designed to remove direct and indirect discrimination, empower local deaf communities and dissolve barriers betwen service providers and those within our community.”

Independent Gary Donnelly said: “Hopefully this is the beginning of a process that breaks down any barriers and isolation.”

People Before Profit’s Shaun Harkin said: “This as an opportunity to increase accessibility for everybody in society. A disabiltiy shouldn’t mean that you are blocked out and locked out from full participation in society.”