This year’s Deaf Awareness Week is taking place from 15-21 May 2017. It is promoted by the UK Council on Deafness, the umbrella body for voluntary organisations working with deaf people in the UK. Deaf Awareness Week is an opportunity to raise awareness that one in six people in the UK are deaf or have hearing loss, a combined total of around 11 million people.
For more than 150,000 people living in the UK, British Sign Language (‘BSL’) is their first language. Whilst BSL is a recognised language in England & Wales it has no legal status, whereas Scotland enacted legislation promoting its use in 2015. Many campaigners believe that formal recognition on the statute book would be an opportunity to strengthen our existing equality laws and tackle discrimination. Further, BSL is not on the National Curriculum and deaf pupils can often suffer from social exclusion and mental health issues. Deaf people face many barriers when trying to access information or services, either through a general lack of awareness or language issues. The British Deaf Association provides an advocacy service in many routine scenarios that non-hearing impaired people may take for granted. For example, they work to ensure that all GP surgeries arrange for deaf patients to attend appointments with the support of a registered interpreter.
All members of the UK Council on Deafness have signed a ‘statement of common purpose’ to:
- Raise awareness
- Improve access to education and employment
- Make sure people have the information they need
- Inform government and the public about deafness and hearing loss
- Support the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Deafness
- Educate people about the importance of preventing hearing loss
- Improve the quality of services for people who are deaf or have a hearing loss
Craig Crowley, Chair of the UK Council on Deafness, said: “This year’s Deaf Awareness Week is ‘a celebration’ of collaboration and working together on a joint campaign for the benefit of people who are deaf or have a hearing loss”.
Events are taking place across the country, including ‘crack the code’ finger spelling competitions and specialist equipment demonstrations. Action on Hearing Loss will be in attendance at an event in Weston-Super-Mare offering free hearing aid checks. The Electric Cinema in Birmingham is holding a special subtitled screening of the Disney classic, Lady & The Tramp, with some of the profits going to Hearing Dogs for Deaf People. More information on events in your area can be found on the UK Council on Deafness website.
If you believe that you are suffering from hearing loss or tinnitus due to excessive exposure to noise in the workplace, please do get in touch with us on 01616 966 229 to discuss a potential compensation claim on a no win, no fee basis. If you have paid for any hearing aids or equipment such as sound therapy devices, we can include the costs in your claim and ask that you are reimbursed by the employers who are at fault for the damage caused.