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Islanders asked to be deaf aware

25 June 2010

This year, the theme of Deaf Awareness Week , which runs between 28 June and 4 July is to invite you to ‘Look at Me’. It aims to improve understanding of the different types of deafness by highlighting the many different methods of communication used by deaf, deafened, deafblind and hard of hearing people, such as sign language and lipreading. It also highlights the importance of communication from everyone's perspective and that communication relates to everyone in the community. This promotes the positive aspects of deafness, social inclusion and raising awareness of local organisations that support deaf people and their family and friends.

National figures estimate that 1 in 7 of the total population is deaf or hard of hearing; and deaf awareness week aims to highlight the issues which hard of hearing or deaf people face every day. This means 12,500 Islanders have a significant hearing loss, which means you may need good communication and deaf awareness. Many people believe it is an age related condition but did you know that approximately 7,000 18-64 year olds are deaf, (those who even with a hearing aid have little or no useful hearing), and approximately 2,500 are hard of hearing (those who with or without a hearing aid have some useful hearing). 2,600 60 years plus experience hearing difficulties. . 

One of our local organisations is The Jersey dDeaf (Operational) Partnership Board. This is made up of people from various organisations, agencies and service users with diverse and varied experiences. The member’s live or work with children, young people, adults, or older people who are dDeaf or Hard of Hearing. 20% of its members are dDeaf themselves.

The Board’s primary function is to provide a forum where expertise can be shared by professionals, users and carers to formulate joint business plans and strategic medium and long term planning for dDeaf and hard of hearing people in Jersey. It also provides an arena for identifying good practices, service gaps and service developments such as developing a training programme and initiative on communication and deaf / deafblind awareness, with the dDeaf Tutors Consortium, Highlands and Social Services

Events during Deaf Awareness Week include

  • a display in the foyer at the Parade entrance of the Hospital and at the Gwyneth Huelin wing
  • a display at Jersey Airport
  • a display in the town Library
  • deaf awareness talk to colleagues in the Income Tax office
  • deaf awareness talk to children in class

On Friday 2 July, a cake stall will be in the General Hospital foyer at the Parade entrance to raise funds to pay for communication support such as a British Sign Language Interpreter to continue with meetings for the dDeaf partnership board.

The Jersey Society for Deaf Children and Young Adults have arranged a range of activities for young members at the Creepy Valley Adventure Centre and are also holding a Society BBQ for members and friends.

The Jersey Society for Deaf and Hard of Hearing People have sponsored a member to attend an electronic note taking course during this week, and are supporting  their portfolio to gain the qualification. They have also funded the first phase of the communication support skills development on island.

The work of Jersey’s Audiology Department and the Hearing Resource Centre will also be highlighted during this week.

On Saturday 03 July, the Hearing Resource Centre, based at Overdale, is holding an open day, where there will be free hearing tests, information on hearing loss and access to environmental equipment.  The lip reading teacher will be available. There will be a display by Audiology, Jersey Society for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Adults and the dDeaf Partnership Board.

Chief Audiologist at HSSD, Jenny Wilkinson said "In Jersey, around 4,000 people use a hearing aid. Basic hearing aids have changed a lot. They are free of charge, and are digital.

"One of the biggest improvements is that the way a hearing aid looks and the technology behind them has improved a lot in the last ten years. They are now much smaller, and are better at separating background noise from someone speaking.

‘The issue of hearing loss is something we look at very early on. For example, all new-born babies have their hearing tested, and that is obviously beneficial because if there are any problems, they can be dealt with straight away and be picked up on.’

Once people have been diagnosed with a hearing problem, the team at the Hearing Resource Centre and General Hospital, are there to help Islanders live with their hearing loss, and find solutions to help make life easier, which may not necessarily be using a hearing aid."

Already, some events have taken place in the run up to the week. St Clement’s School which caters for children with deaf needs, held a story time at the Town Library, where stories were signed for the public, and Le Rocquier School held a deaf awareness display to co-incide with a Year 7 parent evening.

The theatre company Krazy Kats performed Goldilocks and the 3 bears for pupils at St Clement’s and St Mary’s School, and ran a sign/mime workshop for key stage two pupils focusing on how we receive information without speech. They also performed for people at St Paul’s Centre. This was supported by Jersey Society for Deaf Children and Young Adults.

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