Pledge to improve services for city's deaf community

Published on 30 November 2015

LEICESTER City Council and the Leicester Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) will be signing up to the British Sign Language Charter tomorrow (Tuesday December 1).

The British Deaf Association (BDA) charter aims to empower deaf people and improve their lives by removing direct and indirect discrimination. It also aims to increase knowledge of British Sign Language (BSL) and awareness of the issues affecting the deaf community.

Assistant City Mayor for communities and equalities, Cllr Manjula Sood, and the council’s director of delivery, communications, and political governance, Miranda Cannon will be signing the charter on behalf of the council.

Cllr Sood said: "I am very pleased that the council is signing up to the BSL Charter, so that we can help make services more accessible for deaf and hard of hearing residents. It is vitally important that our services reach all corners of the community and anything we can do to enable this is extremely valuable.” 

The city council will pledge to ensure greater access to information and services for deaf people, to support deaf children and families and to consult regularly with the deaf community.

Managing director of the CCG, Sue Lock, Governing Body Chair Professor Azhar Farooqi and independent lay member Mehrunnisa Lalani will be signing up to the charter on behalf of the CCG.

Professor Farooqi said: “As the CCG commissions most of the health services for people in Leicester city, we have a lead role to play in ensuring that commissioned services are inclusive and accessible to all our local patients. By signing up to the charter, and incorporating this into our commissioning cycle, we have a real opportunity to take significant steps to address health inequalities experienced by the deaf community and by people with hearing impairments across the city.

“We are already part of a consortium led by HealthWatch Leicester to improve services to deaf people and we will be ensuring that our main health provider contracts reflect our expectation in the context of the charter.

“For example, this year we have contracted the National BSL Healthy Minds Service to provide specialist talking therapy treatment to deaf people requiring mental health support. We also routinely use BSL interpreters for planned appointments and visits to health care services.”

The CCG will be pledging to ensure deaf people have access to information and services, ensuring health staff working with deaf people can communicate effectively in British sign language and consulting with the local deaf community on a regular basis.

The signing will be authorised by Dr Terry Riley, chair of the BDA and David Sly, from the Leicester Deaf Forum.

Dr Riley said: “The BDA is delighted that Leicester City Council and the CCG are both signing up to the BSL Charter.

"The Charter is designed to empower local deaf groups to work in partnership with service providers and deaf people and we commend them for doing this.

"We are really looking forward to working closely with Leicester City Council to help improve access and rights for deaf people who use BSL and encourage more consultation with the deaf community living in the city.”

Witnesses at the event will include a number of council and CCG representatives, members of the deaf community, and local deaf and other city community groups.