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Businesses back West Norfolk charity's Covid lipreading plea




A charity has launched a new initiative to help raise awareness of the challenges faced by West Norfolk’s deaf community as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

The requirement to wear masks in shops and other indoor settings can pose major problems for people with hearing loss, who rely on lipreading to help communicate with others.

Now, to mark this week’s Deaf Awareness Week, the West Norfolk Deaf Association (WNDA) is leading a campaign encouraging businesses to do more to help customers who need to lipread.

Outdoor Antics is one of the many Downham businesses which has already signed up to the campaign. (46863037)
Outdoor Antics is one of the many Downham businesses which has already signed up to the campaign. (46863037)

Support packs have been put together with help from the Local People Project in the borough, which is supported by Scope, and funding from the People’s Health Trust.

And at least 13 organisations in Downham have already signed up.

Sarah Cox, manager of the charity’s No8 The Old Bookshop in the High Street, said: “The pandemic has been tough for everyone, but for members of our community with hearing loss, the situation is much worse.

Volunteer Yve Mary Barwood (46863030)
Volunteer Yve Mary Barwood (46863030)

“Many rely on lip reading either entirely or to supplement whatever degree of hearing they have so a mask is a huge barrier and not being able to communicate can lead to social isolation

“We were grateful to receive funding to spread the word among our lovely neighbours in Downham and they have been incredibly supportive of us”

The packs include signs for businesses to display, encouraging people to indicate if they need to lip read so staff can help them. They also contain clear masks for staff to use as well as further advice on communcating to people with hearing loss.

Businesses which have signed up so far include: Framin’ Art, Richard Gill Traditional Butcher, Morris Armitage, Beds of Paradise, Knots Timber Merchant, Salon at Charmed Interiors, Tickled Pink, Total Care Norfolk Ltd,Downham Post Office, WH Brown, Break Charity, Feet First Chiropody Clinic and Outdoor Antics.

Butcher Richard Gill is among those supporting the initiative (46863034)
Butcher Richard Gill is among those supporting the initiative (46863034)

And WNDA manager Anna Pugh said they are planning to run awareness courses for businesses, plus British Sign Language training at their headquarters in Railway Road, Lynn, once restrictions are eased sufficiently.

She said: “The pandemic brought many additional problems for our community and mask-wearing has been a huge issue which we hope can be mostly overcome with campaigns like this.”

For more information, phone 01553 773399, email info@wnda.org.uk, or find the group on either Facebook or Twitter.

Campaign badges get the supportive message across (46863027)
Campaign badges get the supportive message across (46863027)
Signs like this are being displayed at participating businesses (46863012)
Signs like this are being displayed at participating businesses (46863012)


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