IM this article to a friend!

November 22, 2003

Deaf Centre performs a valuable community role

From: Waterford News, Ireland - Nov 22, 2003

The Waterford Deaf Centre is the latest monthly recipient of the Waterford News & Star/AIB Community Award.

The Centre, which is situated off Henrietta Street, beside the Viking Hostel, was established in 1986 and now has 60 members hailing from a widespread area that includes Ballymacaw to Dungarvan to Piltown.

It is a voluntary group which comes together once a month for social nights or information nights. The Centre used to open once a week but with the advance of communication technology such as faxes, e-mail, MSN and text messages, the deaf no longer used the centre for contacting people and are now in touch with everyone on a regular basis, as against once a week a few years ago.

Information nights are arranged regularly. This allows deaf people to access information about certain things through the help of a sign language interpreter.

Such topics discussed to date are €uro changeover, crime prevention, gardening, fire safety in the home, flower arranging, reflexology and prevention of cancer.

Officials from the social welfare and income tax offices advise on entitlements.

Guest speakers also come along to advise on mortgage and savings. Only recently the Centre received a request to invite someone in to advise on the introduction of the penalty points.

For a deaf person to access information or go on a course on their own can be difficult.

Some of the members will be starting a computer course designed specially for deaf people along with the assistance of an interpreter.

This course will be partly funded by the SEHB through the assistance of South East National Association for the Deaf and Waterford VEC.

Some of the social welfare staff learnt sign language to improve communication between their offices and our own, thereby allowing a deaf person to communicate directly with that office independently.

Two years ago a course was provided for the staff of the Waterford Rape Crisis Centre.

Literacy classes are given in the centre for any deaf wishing to go. The classes must be given by the deaf tutor so that students can be taught through their first language – sign language. Funding is provided by the Department of Education through the Irish Deaf Society. The project is called Link Up, which is the equivalent of Read Write which is run for the hearing people.

For the first time ever a summer camp was held last summer for deaf children and hearing children of deaf parents.

Funding for this was provided through Waterford City Council and it proved to be a great success.

Waterford Deaf Centre keeps in contact on a regular basis with two national deaf organisations – South East National Association for the Deaf (SE NAD) and the Irish Deaf Society (IDS) and is represented on some of the sub committees of both organisations.

At present two of local members are making arrangements with the S.E. NAD to talk to deaf parents of hearing children with the aim of having a ‘camp’ for these children who may have emotional problems just because their parents are deaf.

Such problems encountered are embarrassing to the child when his/her parents communicate in sign language in public, drawing a response from members of the public.

Funding for Waterford Deaf Centre is generated by the members themselves by arranging flag days, back packing, sponsored walks etc.

Funds raised are used to pay rent, heat, ESB, office work, interpreters and, in some instances, for speakers on information nights.

Contact for Waterford Deaf Centre can be arranged through Chairperson, Noreen Fitzpatrick, fax: 051-643524 or telephone Máire Mariga at 051-350532.

© Waterford News & Star, 2003.