12 million people in the UK are Deaf or have hearing loss. It’s time to celebrate the Deaf community, to educate yourself about deafness, and continue to advocate for accessibility and inclusion in everyday life.
Panel member Mark, who is profoundly deaf and has Asperger's Syndrome, shares his motivations for being part of the panel.
Mark is 62 years-old and has been part of the RiDC panel for about a year. He found out about the panel from an email he was sent and was motivated to join. He has taken part in lots of online surveys on a wide range of topics.
For Mark, the panel is a way of bringing about change and of ensuring he has a voice on the things that matter to him, he says:
“The voice of disabled people is still not heard. Therefore, it is important for me to be involved in this type of research. I’d encourage other people to become part of the panel because there are only a few opportunities and services for disabled people in the UK, so it could make a big difference.”
“Nearly all products and services are still controlled by the non-disabled and hearing people who still use the Medical Model of Disability. Moving to the Social Model of Disability is vital for my community and disabled consumers.”
Mark feels strongly that businesses need to increase their cooperation with disabled consumers. He says there should be much more involvement at every level of service and product design.
The Social Model of Disability
The social model of disability is a way of viewing the world, developed by disabled people. It says that people are disabled by barriers in society, not by their impairment. Barriers can be physical things like buildings or caused by people’s attitudes. Removing these barriers offers disabled people more independence and control.
A new role
In September, Mark started a new role as a British Sign Language (BSL) Tutor for Adult Learning Wales. He will teach the staff an introduction to British Sign Language over a period of five weeks.
Mark has been highly involved in sign language education and curriculum development and was part of the team involved in the BSL Act 2022, which was passed in June. He is also a mentee with Disability Wales and has been part of the Ready for Leadership programme.
“I am passionate about BSL because Deaf people need a form of visual communication. And also, sign language was banned in the UK and all over the world for more than 100 years, so it must be supported and recognised now.”
Building inclusive communities
The theme of this year’s International Deaf Awareness Month is ‘Building Inclusive Communities’.
“The Equality Act is a vital law for the inclusive community. Inclusivity means that I should be able to be part of it. Actually I feel part of many communities. Many Deaf organisations are for Deaf people. Many autistic organisations are for autistic people. However, I am profoundly Deaf and have Asperger’s Syndrome. It’s a double whammy.”
So what would improve things? Well for Mark it’s about increasing awareness of deafness and disability.
“We’ll do that through education, a campaign and positive publicity for disabled people,” he says.
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