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Archive for May 10th, 2019

10 MayDeaf Awareness Week Role Models


Today SignHealth celebrates their role model, Sarah Powell

Dr Sarah Powell Photo

Sarah’s Story

My name is Sarah Powell and I am a clinical psychologist.  Since I was a teenager, I have always been interested in mental health and the impact it has on people.  However, in ‘them days’ there was no deaf clinical psychologist.  This did not stop me, and I focused on gaining qualification and employment linking to mental health such as working in a residential school for deaf children with complex needs and challenging behaviour, working as an information worker in a disability organisation and working as a mental health support worker in a secure hospital for deaf people.  When I found out that deaf people were on the clinical psychologist course, I then worked as an assistant psychologist which helped me to get onto the course. I qualified from University of Liverpool in 2011 with a huge smile (a very proud moment for me and remains since)!

Working for SignHealth in Primary care for mental health – there is no typical working day, each day is so different!  For example, one day I could be focusing on therapy to various clients to help with their mental health.  I do this either travelling to their GP surgery (and avoiding traffic along the route!) or I can do this online which means client can do this at the comfort of their home.  Sometimes therapy is rewarding because you can see the positive change in their lives, in how their distress have been reduced and been able to make positive changes.  Sometimes the sessions are difficult as they process difficult and painful memories, but the clients know it is important to do to enable positive changes.  Another day could be focusing on supervision – I offer supervision to other therapists or staff to ensure they are supported, to discuss clinical work and improving their skills.  There is also the usual administrative work – letters to the GP or CCG (Clinical Commissioning Group who usually fund for psychological therapy) explaining why deaf people needs therapy in their native language and without BSL interpreters rather than referring them to mainstream service.  This is because many deaf people struggled within mainstream service and have either dropped out of therapy, not benefitted from it or even made their symptoms worse.  Read more of this article

10 MayDeaf Direct are supporting Deaf Awareness Week

DD large logo

Today Deaf Direct are supporting role models in Family/Youth during Deaf Awareness Week.

Summer Camp 2016

Deaf Direct is a local charitable company that has worked with and for deaf and hard of hearing people since 1927. We provide a wide range of services to deaf and hard of hearing people, family members and carers, and professionals and other organisations in Herefordshire, Oxfordshire, Worcestershire and surrounding areas.

As a deaf-led registered charitable company we are independent of the statutory sector and able to fully advocate for local needs. All our activities are undertaken to further our charitable purposes for the public benefit.

Deaf Direct services include: communication interpreting, community outreach, information & advice, youth & families as well as running three centres in Oxford, Worcester and Hereford.


We have this excellent support for Deaf & Hard of Hearing Children and their families through activities and residential breaks to ensure that their deafness is not a barrier to their family life and at the same time allow for a child peer support and group identity.


10 MayDeaf Awareness Week

Today Let’s Sign is supporting Deaf Awareness Week.

lets sign

Communication is at the heart of Family life and yet for some children this cannot be taken for granted.

Language and culture are usually passed down from one generation to the next but most children  who are born deaf are born to hearing parents who may have no prior knowledge or understanding of deafness or sign language (approx. 90%).

The importance of language development in the early years cannot be overstated and deaf children in particular need all available language options, including the opportunity for bilingualism in British Sign Language (BSL) and English, at the earliest opportunity to minimise the risk of language deprivation.

We are not born with language but we are born with the innate capacity to acquire it, as can be witnessed in young children making the most spectacular progress in building their own constructions and producing for themselves a language that has not been ‘taught’ to them but which they are able to acquire effortlessly for themselves by exposure to it.

Hearing parents wishing to learn BSL to communicate with their child face learning a new language in a different modality in order to provide a language environment in which their child can interact and be able to acquire with ease.

This exciting prospect requires support, reassurance and encouragement,  not only from the relevant professionals, but also from the opportunity to meet other children and families in  family signing classes where there will also be the potential for contact with native sign language users and adult role models invaluable to young signers’ identity.

The Let’s Sign BSL series of dictionaries, guides, flashcards, posters and reward stickers are designed to support such face-to-face teaching and learning by providing a ready reference to revise what has been learned in class and also to provide a useful aid when classes are difficult to access.

DeafBooks also has a sizeable following on Twitter –  Let’s Sign @DeafBooks

and FaceBook –DeafBooks

with many free shared images and resources.

Families also use these pages to post their own images of how they are using the Let’s Sign resources with their families in the home environment and there have been some unexpected and lovely ones……

Along with feedback on the value they have found in such resources….

And examples where families unexpectedly came across our graphics at the Zoo…..

And in local schools and nurseries……

     and library…..

and even in the park….

But my favourite came straight out of the blue on World Book Day when these delightful pictures were posted of young Florence who looks as though she’s having a whale of a time and inventively dressed as the Signing Book Fairy….