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Sinn Fein to explore sign language training for MLA’s

10 May, 2007


Sinn Fein Spokesperson on Disability, Mid Ulster MLA Michelle O'Neill has said that Sinn Fein will meet with representatives of the RNID next week to discuss how the Assembly can facilitate people who are deaf or hard of hearing in accessing the political institutions. Among a number of suggestions is an initiative to deliver training in sign language to Assembly members.

Speaking after meeting with the RNID at an event in parliament buildings aimed at raising awareness of the issues effecting the deaf and hard of hearing community Mrs O'Neill said:

"I was glad of the opportunity to meet with the representatives of RNID. The group works extremely hard to make real positive changes for the deaf and hard of hearing community. They aim to raise awareness of the issues which effect deaf and hard of hearing on a daily basis.

"The event today gave the assembly members the opportunity to learn more and to hear directly from those who are deaf and hard of hearing.

"There are 219,000 deaf and hard of hearing people in the north of Ireland who face barriers to opportunity and fulfilment. There are a number of issues which need to be addressed as a priority in this new assembly, namely, the lack of qualified interpreters, the need to ensure that there is fair and equal access to services and employment and education opportunities and the need to have a fully modernised audiology service.

"We need to implement strategies for change and for these strategies to be given priority in the Executive. Such strategies should address the full inclusion of deaf people in our society and ensure that they are not discriminated against or subjected to the poverty and negative effects on their mental health that this exclusion can cause.

"I will be meeting with representatives of RNID again next week to discuss how we address these and the many other issues affecting this community through the Assembly and also to look at how the Assembly can facilitate people who are deaf or hard of hearing in accessing the political institutions. Among a number of suggestions is an initiative to deliver training in sign language to Assembly members." ENDS

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