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Deaf community urged to improve emergency services

group communicating in Sign Language

New Zealand – Members of the Southland Deaf Community are wanting more emergency service agencies and business staff to learn basic sign language to communicate people who are deaf or hard of hearing in emergency situations, reports Stuff. 

The group will be campaigning for more people to learn sign language and will target businesses and emergency service agencies to give them a greater understanding of how better communication can help situations between them and people who are deaf or hard of hearing.

Deaf community president Roger Strong and member Jaime Dowdle were born deaf but with hearing aids, can hear a little. Strong can’t talk. The pair use sign language every day among family and friends.

Dowdle said if emergency services personnel knew sign language it would give comfort to people who are deaf or hard of hearing in emergency situations.

“Even if they learned basic sign language it would help us,” Dowdle said.

Roger remembers working in a commercial painting crew on the eighth floor of a building in Christchurch when the tragic 2011 earthquake struck the city. Strong didn’t realise what had happened until he turned around and none of his workmates were there.

 

 

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