Bus stop, look, listen

A LISTENING bus with roadshow staff who demonstrate sign language called at Huntingdon Junior School. The bus, run by the National Deaf Children s Society, includes all the latest equipment for deaf children and their families, including vibrating alarm c

A LISTENING bus with roadshow staff who demonstrate sign language called at Huntingdon Junior School.

The bus, run by the National Deaf Children's Society, includes all the latest equipment for deaf children and their families, including vibrating alarm clocks and pagers, flashing doorbells and specialist phones.

The bus also has a quiet room where parents and teachers can talk to roadshow staff and a toy area for young visitors. It visits schools across Britain.

Vicki Mitchell, the roadshow co-ordinator, said: "It's great to be able to give deaf children a chance to have a 'real' phone conversation with their friends and family on the bus. Often, they have never tried a specialised phone before. It's wonderful to see their faces light up and hear them chatting."

The bus was invited to the school by Tracey Hunter, whose nine-year-old son, Scott, a pupil at the school, has had severe hearing loss since he developed an illness aged four.

Children from other schools, including Spring Common and Stukeley Meadows in Huntingdon and Mayfield in Cambridge were invited for the day.

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Mrs Hunter said: "The children were intrigued with the equipment and the signing and it was nice for the deaf children to meet other children who are deaf so they know they are not the only ones."

Mrs Hunter is the team leader of Cambridge and Huntingdon's Deaf Children's Society. The society's children's club meets in the Visitor Centre in Hinchingbrooke Park on the second Saturday of every month from 10am to 12.30pm for games, crafts and outings.

INFORMATION: Membership of the Deaf Society's Children's Club is free. Contact Tracey Hunter on 01480 393781.

*STAFF at Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service have been learning sign language to help them communicate more effectively with people with hearing difficulties.

Twelve members of staff, including two firefighters and all community fire safety officers, underwent an intensive three-day Deaf Awareness and Introduction to Sign Language course run by national charity Deafworks. The team can now carry out a home fire risk assessment with, and give general fire safety to, someone with hearing difficulties.

First learning how to finger spell, the group soon progressed to British Sign Language, learning how to sign days of the week, months, rooms in the house, emotions and other everyday words such as foods, drinks and transport. They then learnt words and phrases specific to fire safety such as the sign for risk, candle, electric blanket, smoke detector, emergency and fire engine.

Community Fire Safety Officer Abi Hirji explained: "There are so many people in our community that have some level of difficulty hearing, be it through age, damage, illness or from birth, and not all can lip read, and so it is great that we will now be able to communicate effectively and respectively with deaf people by putting our new skills into practise. This will be especially helpful when carrying out home fire risk assessments and giving fire safety advice.

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