Improving Community Access for Deaf People

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Thursday, May 28th, 2015
Community, What's On
People living with hearing loss or deafness in the Southern area now can access a wider range of activities and opportunities through the Community Access Service for the Deaf. access1There are 300,000 people in Northern Ireland who are deaf, have a hearing loss or tinnitus. Pat McAteer, Specialist Services Manager for the Southern Trust explained, “Having a hearing impairment can be a huge barrier for people, making it much more difficult to do things that many of us would take for granted, like pursuing an education, working or even just enjoying leisure activities. “The Community Access Officer for Deaf People helps service users with hearing loss to build on their skills and interests to fulfil their ambitions, whether they be in terms of training, their career or socially. “The Community Access Officer is an advocate for clients, working with other statutory and community organisations to promote equality and help ensure that they can get the most out of life.” The Service is working with a wide range of clients from across Armagh, Dungannon, Craigavon, Banbridge and Newry and Mourne, to help them overcome their hearing difficulties to access activities and services. Paul Davison from South Down, who is profoundly deaf, has been enjoying a wider range of activities since using the Community Access Service. The 31 year old says, “I am a lip reader and also use BSL Sign Language. I really enjoy sport, particularly tennis and was keen to access more mainstream services in my local area. “Since being referred to Community Access by my Social Worker I have been able to use the local college, my local gyms and have also started driving lessons.” The Community Access Officer for Deaf People has teamed up with the Southern Regional College to set up an IT class specifically for deaf people. As well as giving a chance for them to meet each other and socialise, the class teaches how to use Tablets to improve their communication to reduce social isolation for example through Facetime, Skype and Email. It also aims to help those with hearing impairment to access information about the wide range of services available to them. The class takes place on Tuesdays in the Armagh Campus from 7-9.30 pm and includes both local participants and those from the Republic of Ireland and the International Deaf community.
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