IM this article to a friend!

February 4, 2005

Emergency calls: system facing a tough text test

From: Belfast Telegraph, UK - Feb 4, 2005

Deaf Talkabout with Bob McCullough
04 February 2005

Tonight at the Wellington Park Hotel on Belfast's Malone Road, PSNI Chief Superintendent Eddie Graham and Sergeant Stephen Henry will be announcing new ways in which deaf people can summon help in emergencies by text messages on their mobiles to the police, ambulance and fire services.

Eddie and Steve, as they are known in the deaf community, have been quietly working for over a year on improving communications with the police service and making sure all stations around the province are deaf friendly; but attempts to find a text alternative to the 999 service used by hearing folk have so far been stymied by technical problems.

The two men, both fluent signers, will also visit deaf clubs all over Northern Ireland making sure as many as possible know about the new SMS service before the official launch and switch-on in March. You can register during their visit, but texting will only begin when a few handpicked deaf in various parts of the province have tested the efficiency and reliability of the service.

The meeting is at 7.30pm and will be followed by the popular Sign Language Pub, which regularly attracts a good number of deaf to the Wellington Park on the first Friday of each month.

Janet Young, Resource Development Officer of the Baby Talk project at the NI branch of the British Deaf Association, is organising a meeting in the same venue and time on Friday, March 4, at which Tessa Padden, from See Hear, and Shirley Hofschroer will explain the importance of deaf signers in the DVD Rom being produced to educate and inspire new parents.

As well as offering professional advice, the Rom will include short stories from local mature parents of deaf children, and adult sign language users sharing their experiences. By addressing gaps in existing provision it is hoped the DVD Rom will benefit future generations of deaf children in terms of social skills, self-confidence, educational attainment and sense of identity.

Janet says she would like more applicants from young people, as it would be great to see experienced people and younger deaf working together as a team. There will be training courses in Belfast the following day, March 5, before filming begins.

The training will prepare candidates for translating written text into BSL/ISL with help and advice from native sign language users, Tessa and Shirley. The course will cover topics such as regional variations, sign order, syntax, quality control and the difference between interpreting and presenting. It will be intensive, but also, hopefully, interesting and good fun.

More media opportunities are becoming available for this kind of work, but those interested must show willingness to attend the training if you want to be on the temporary register list as it is important to maintain quality and high standards of signing and presenting.

It is hoped to begin filming in the summer and the above-mentioned training will be very useful if you would like to help with the project. You can get in touch with Janet at the BDA office in Suite 3, Cranmore House, 611b Lisburn Road. Text is 90-387706; fax 90-387707, and e-mail

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