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Archive for May, 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….



09 MayDeaf Awareness Week Role Models

Deaf Umbrella Celebrates their role model today, Mr Peter Brown.

Peter Brown

Today we champion our Deaf Role Model Mr Peter Brown.

Peter has worked with Deaf Umbrella for nearly 20 years.  As a freelance member of the team he has provided support for our interview process by skills testing all our applicants.  Each applicant will go through a BSL production and receptive skills test, regardless of their qualification.

Peter is our BSL tutor of choice for bespoke courses for various business clients; large or small.  He will work with the client to provide a BSL course that will help the team communicate with a deaf member of staff.  By working with the team and that member of staff he creates lunch time courses to aid effective communication.

PB awards

Peter is our tutor of choice for Staff Development evenings.  He will take staff through workshops on a wide variety of topics all in the pursuit of widening BSL vocabulary in line with educational environments.

Peter is our actor of choice for instructional videos.  We first worked with him on Deaf Awareness videos (2017) and then an updated Deaf Awareness video in the following year (2018)  Peter can be seen in our new video on Communication Support at Interview (CSI) this can be found in the following link.

Peter is also our wonderful handyman.  He has hung signs, painted walls, moved furniture and generally been a joy to work with.  We call him a man of many hats.

More information can be found on Deaf Umbrella TV

09 MayDeaf Awareness Week Role Models

SignHealth celebrates their role model today, Marie Vickers.

The Marie Vickers Story

Marie Photo

Marie Vickers and the DeafHope Team

The Domestic Abuse team is a mixture of service manager, senior IDVA (Independent Domestic Violence Adviser), 3 IDVAs, outreach workers, 3 prevention officers, children and family’s workers and admin coordinators. We’re such a diverse group, we are a completely women led team and predominantly a Deaf lead team, we have a hearing administrator, who is fluent in BSL.

Our typical working day is extremely varied, the Service Manager and Senior IDVA are responsible for receiving referrals and contacting women at risk to offer support, they would then allocate the right support, which is where the IDVAs and outreach workers would go out and meet the clients and offer support, making sure that the risk of harm is reduced.

Our Young Deaf Hope team focuses on providing workshops at schools, colleges, drop in centres and many other places to raise awareness for young Deaf people about cyber bullying, sexting, grooming and many other topics.

Our Children and Families workers focus on support Deaf mothers and their children to have a healthy relationship, working with social services and any relevant departments.

Every day is completely different for all our staff members – day to day our staff members could be at court, a conference, a training course, at the police station, at a social services meeting, at a school providing training the list goes on and on!

The biggest challenge we face on a daily basis is barriers due to communication. There has been countless occasions where an interpreter hasn’t been booked for a police interview or court case which has in turn resulted in our staff having to reassure the client. When a client has been suffering with domestic abuse, they sometimes need to go to a ‘refuge’ as they are not safe at home, we have had many cases where a refuge will refuse to accept a deaf women, because they don’t know how to communicate with them. This is by far the biggest challenge we face, until awareness is raised our clients suffer in the system.

Seeing our clients leave an abusive relationship with our support is the biggest highlight for us. We’ve received cards and presents thanking us for our support in helping our clients through such a difficult time. We have also been rewarded for our service from The Charity Of The Year awards and The Emma Humphreys memorial prize, we have also been nominated for National Diversity Awards this month (please vote for us!), which means people are becoming more and more aware of how important our role is within the Domestic Abuse sector.

We fight daily for Deaf awareness in the domestic abuse sector, there needs to be more awareness for Deaf women who have experienced domestic abuse to feel more supported and heard. Deaf Awareness Week is a great way for organisations to provide training!

We are very proud to be a part of SignHealth’s mission to become a national service. We are part of a diverse, deaf led organisation who is passionate about improving mental health services for Deaf people.