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May 21, 2004

Deaf Talkabout: One-stop shop for parents

From: Belfast Telegraph - Belfast,Nothern Ireland,UK - May 21, 2004

By Bob McCullough

21 May 2004

BELFAST girl Janet Young, an old pupil of Mary Hare and a graduate of the University of Central Lancashire, has been given responsibility by the British Deaf Association to produce a 'one-stop shop' CD-Rom for parents of young children aged up to three years and their families.

It is recognised by all sections of society that the first three years of a child's life are of crucial importance in his or her emotional and educational development and the BDA hopes that the production of this new disc will help remove ambiguity from how communication is best achieved.

The daughter of deaf parents Sam and Josephine and with experience of both sign language and English from an early age, Janet is recognised as the ideal role model for the job.

She told me: "This venture is aimed specifically at two sets of parents. Deaf parents and parents of deaf children.

"We aim to provide guidance and clear pathways to ensure parents understand their rights, where to get help and what options are available for their children in Northern Ireland from a social model perspective."

She asked me to make it clear that deaf parents with hearing children will form an integral part of the research and not just the hearing parents of the nine out of ten deaf children born to them. The CD-Rom will hopefully promote speedy bonding, healthy development and language acquisition, of both English and sign language, at early stages.

Janet says that the information provided will help to ensure that future generations of deaf children, and children of deaf parents, along with their better informed families, will have the widest scope possible for a happy and healthy childhood.

In their bright and spacious new offices on the Lisburn Road, Janet and her team will carry out research in the form of workshops, meetings and questionnaires etc. and plan to centralise all information into a single user-friendly resource in both sign language and English.

Parents and relevant professionals from statutory agency departments and voluntary groups will be asked to co-operate in steering groups at all stages.

The plan is to promote early learning and language skills in both sign language and English in a bilingual setting and to ensure early identification and support for deaf children in accord with the BDA's vision, educational and sign language policy.

For more information contact Janet at Cranmore House, suite 3, 611B Lisburn Road, Belfast BT9 7GT (tel: 9038 7700, fax: 9038 7707, minicom: 9038 7706.

• Deaf and hearing are welcome to Wilton House tomorrow evening where Brian and Edna Symington, in conjunction with friends from Christ Church, are organising a barn dance from 7.45 to 11pm. Admission is £5 and all proceeds will go to Habitat for Humanity for a building project in South Africa. Brian's son is part of the travelling team doing the work.

© 2004 Independent News and Media (NI) a division of Independent News & media (UK) Ltd