IM this article to a friend!

January 28, 2005

Deaf on track for karting

From: Belfast Telegraph - Belfast,Northern Ireland,UK - Jan 28, 2005

Deaf Talkabout with Bob McCullough
28 January 2005

Tomorrow the Northern Ireland Deaf Karting Club hold their fourth annual open championships at Superdrive Motorsport centre, just outside Portadown, and in the evening there will be a buffet, followed by awards for the karting, at Portadown Golf Club. All 150 tickets have already been sold.

The 60 competitors for the title of NI Open Champion 2005 include entries from Scotland, England and the Republic of Ireland, and secretary James Newell says the membership has been growing by leaps and bounds and he honestly doesn't know why the sport is proving so attractive.

It costs £30 to hire a car for the day and there is the additional expense of travel to the four times a year competitions. But nobody complains and James surmises that the members just like meeting new people, competing with other deaf drivers and chatting in their common language.

I remember taking my son and his chum go-karting when he was about 12, and in those days parents like me probably regarded the karts as a sort of advanced toy and an outing on the track as an occasional, expensive treat. We ourselves felt no desire to ride the outlandish contraptions with their tiny wheels and seats a few inches from the ground.

James tells me it is all different now and modern karts are high performance machines capable of quite high speeds and thrilling to drive while still comparatively safe. Deaf people, of course, miss out on the noise of the revving engines and screaming tyres, but their senses are exercised in other ways and the new sport is proving addictive and great fun.

÷A letter has come from the Department of Psychology and Speech Pathology at Manchester Metropolitan University appealing for people to come forward to train as lip-reading teachers. It says there is still a desperate shortage in the UK and many deaf people experience devastating communication difficulties both in the family and at work.

Just as I sat down to write this, a fax came from a friend whose husband was taken to hospital for an operation and was unable to speak because of a tracheotomy, and unable to write because of numerous lines and tubes in his wrists. His wife has lip-reading skills and was the only one able to understand what he was saying.

My friend said that God moves in mysterious ways and it was strange and a blessing that she was able to help in this way. Even the nurses were glad when she arrived. Her husband wanted to go home and she had to calm him down. He wanted a cup of tea, which, of course, he couldn't have. Her husband was cut off from the two-way communication hearing folk take for granted.

The university is looking for mature people who have a warm, caring and professional approach; who speak clearly and are willing to learn to communicate effectively with people who are deaf. Write to Anita Clokie, Programme Co-ordinator, at the Elizabeth Gaskell Campus, Hathersage Road, Manchester, e-mail

2005 Independent News and Media (NI) a division of Independent News & media (UK) Ltd