Hawick deaf project hailed a major success

PEOPLE who are deaf or hard of hearing across Scotland should soon start to find dealing with Citizens Advice Bureaux much easier thanks to a pilot project in Hawick.

Roxburgh Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) launched ‘We Hear You’ last year, with the aim of making services more accessible to the deaf or those with hearing difficulties.

This is the first project of its kind in Scotland and so successful has it been that CAB bosses are now looking at rolling it out nationwide.

It came about after a local man, who is partially-deaf, felt staff were not able to communicate properly with him.

The upshot was an invitation to meet with CAB manager, Pat Buckley, who also then held meetings with local deaf groups.

Funding from Citizens Advice Scotland was then used to set up a two-year project aimed at turning the Roxburgh CAB into as user-friendly a place as possible.

The last six months has seen the recruitment of project manager Natalie Brodie-Clarke, who is herself hard of hearing and a teacher of deaf-language skills.

Improvements have also been made to the Hawick office, including the use of plain walls to make it less distracting for lip readers, plus the installation of hearing loop systems and online interpreters.

All the bureau’s staff have now been trained to recognise those who are hard-of-hearing, with several advisers receiving advanced sign language training.

Ms Brodie-Clark has now been lined up to give presentations at national conferences and possibly the organisation’s AGM in March and also attended a meeting of the All-Party Group on deafness at the Scottish Parliament.