Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Social club makes deaf happy

Social club makes deaf happy

LIVING in a quiet world can be hard, but one social group in Rockhampton is determined to bring together the hearing impaired to break down those barriers.

Jason Roberts from Mount Morgan admits he doesn’t get out much, but doesn’t miss the Social Deaf Club’s monthly meetings.

“It makes me really happy,” Jason said, through an interpreter.

The hearing impaired 28-year-old doesn’t have friends in his hometown he can communicate with through sign-language so he mostly chats with friends online through MSN or by text message.

He admits it is good to get out of the house and chat with others like him, face to face, using sign language at the monthly group meetings.

“It’s is really good to come together to talk.”

And the members of the group talk about anything from fishing to current events, as well as the day-to-day issues they struggle with.

Since joining the group Jason has learnt a new sign language – the more commonly used Auslan, rather than the English signing he learnt at school.

“It helps a lot.”

People travel from all over Central Queensland to attend the meetings held at Rockhampton Community Health, as there are limited services around the region.

Carol and Barry Keech travel from Gladstone and find the lack of services available to them frustrating.

Carol said whether it was to phone the doctor or face a court appearance, they needed interpreters as well as ways to communicate to make appointments in the first place.

Barry said having to pay for an interpreter cost money.

With only two interpreters available in the Rockhampton region, Barry said if they were unavailable he had to arrange interpreters to come from Brisbane.

In doing this, Barry said he not only pays for their time but also the cost of flights, car hire and accommodation.

Through D-link, a Rockhampton based drop-in centre, deaf and hearing impaired people have access to informal support to assist them with getting in touch with interpreters, making appointments and putting them on the various support agencies, government departments and other services.

However D-link operates in Rockhampton only one day a week and with funding running out in April, even that is in question.

D-link operators are now seeking local sponsorship, not only to allow them to continue the service but hopefully to even increase to two days a week.

Karon Robertson, who grew up in Biloela, said there was a big demand for more services for the deaf in our region.

“We need volunteers, interpreters, and a future for our young deaf.”

She said the social group was hugely beneficial for the whole deaf community.

“We never stop talking; we can go for hours.”

The next meeting of the Social Deaf Club is March 13.

To contact the Social Deaf Club, text mobile 0447 014 973 or contact D-link on 4938 6000 on Wednesdays.