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Bedford Borough Liberal Democrats Backing Deaf Awareness Week Locally

May 6, 2020 2:49 PM

Still from a video featuring speech and BSL, with Cllr Jake Sampson and Suzie SampsonThis week is Deaf Awareness Week, and Bedford Borough Liberal Democrats are backing its important message locally. Liberal Democrat Councillor Tim Hill, who is hearing impaired, has stressed the importance of the campaign's work to raise awareness of the needs of those who are deaf or have hearing loss, and highlighted the benefits this can bring locally.

Commenting, Councillor Hill said: "Like so many others, I have a hearing impairment which affects me in all sorts of ways that I simply wouldn't be aware of if I didn't experience them myself. It is crucial that we all work to raise awareness of the challenges of deafness and hearing loss, which are faced by 1 in 6 people in the UK.'

"At this difficult time during lockdown the risks of people suffering the worst effects of isolation can be even greater for those who are deaf or hearing impaired. Goods and services can be even more difficult for them to access, for example, and it is vital that organisations consider the particular obstacles that they face."

Cllr Hill, who is Councillor for Elstow and Stewartby Ward, is learning British Sign Language during this lockdown period, and is sharing his progress with followers of his Facebook page via videos such as this one.

The particular focus for Deaf Awareness Week 2020, which runs from 4-10th May, is acquired deafness. In light of the pandemic the focus has also been broadened to encourage a celebration of Deafness, to raise awareness of best practice and to demonstrate change and positivity.

The campaign sees charities and groups across the country working to raise awareness of the importance of accessibility and inclusion.

There are many things you can do to communicate clearly with people who are deaf or have hearing loss and help them follow what is being said, such as not turning or looking away while you are talking, not covering your mouth with your hands and not shouting, which looks aggressive and is uncomfortable for a hearing aid user. National charity Action on Hearing Loss offers tips for communicating clearly here: https://www.actiononhearingloss.org.uk/how-we-help/information-and-resources/deaf-awareness/tips-for-hearing-people/

Liberal Democrat Newnham Ward Councillor Jake Sampson, whose mother Suzie Sampson (pictured, with Cllr Sampson) was involved in establishing Access Bedford, is also working to spread the message of Deaf Awareness Week and he added: "There are excellent local voluntary groups, such as Access Bedford, and services such as the Council's Deaf and Hearing Impairment Service, who are working to support local people. I want to thank them for all that they do, and to encourage everyone to think about how they can help ensure that everyone is able to experience the access and inclusivity that they deserve in their day-to-day lives."

You can find out more about Deaf Awareness Week 2020 from the UK Council on Deafness here: https://www.deafcouncil.org.uk/deaf-awareness-week/