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Unique election hustings for Gloucester deaf

Unique election hustings for Gloucester's deaf community

This morning GDA hosted a pre-general election debate with all seven of Gloucester's election candidates attending to hear the concerns of the local deaf and hard of hearing communities. 

The following write-up from Punchline Gloucestershire Magazine provides a review of the proceedings:

Gloucester’s election hopefuls gathered at Barnwood-based Gloucestershire Deaf Association to hear and answer the concerns of some of the city’s most vulnerable constituents.

The event saw over 40 attendees, including members of the profoundly deaf and hard of hearing community.

With BBC deaf awareness programme, See Hear and local media present at the event, the hustings proved to be a real triumph for Gloucester’s deaf community.

The debate focused predominantly on the issues facing those with hearing difficulties as members of the association received the unique opportunity to quiz all seven city candidates.

The prospective MPs taking part in the debate were; Richard Graham (Conservative), Sophy Gardner (Labour), Jeremy Hilton (Liberal Democrat), Richard Ford (UKIP), Jonathon Ingleby (Green Party), Sue Powell (TUSC) and George Idgen (Monster Raving Loony Party).

Mark Owen, MD of Moose Marketing and PR, chaired the session and two British Sign Language interpreters live translated the event with a running speech to text script of the proceedings visible to all.

After candidates delivered a small three minute speech, questions were opened to the floor with generic issues raised including youth unemployment, benefit cuts and the controversial bedroom tax.

In sometimes rather evocative questions, members of the association expressed concerns close to their hearts to find out what each candidate would do to help overcome problems faced by people with hearing issues.

Among key issues raised was Access to Work for the deaf and hard of hearing, healthcare provision and accessibility for those with disabilities and the future of deaf children in schools.

The latter comes as Beaufort School’s deaf support facility looks set to close and nationally GCSE performance in deaf children is on average only half of that in hearing children.

The event highlighted for many among the audience, not least the candidates, that there is a lot more that needs to be done to break down the barriers that the deaf and wider disabled community face.

But it ended on a hopeful note, with many candidates pledging to take action should they be elected, suggesting that no matter who wins this May, Gloucester’s deaf community will most definitely have their opinions acted upon.

View the article online at Punchline Gloucestershire by clicking here

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