News release: Sign of the Times

Media and Promotion Office (2003) News release: Sign of the Times. Other. University of Central Lancashire (UCLan), Preston.

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Jobs Boost for Deaf Community on Merseyside
The Department of Education and Social Science at the University of Central Lancashire
(UCLan) has signed a landmark contract with the Merseyside Society for Deaf People
(MSDP) that will boost employment prospects for Deaf people across Merseyside and the
North West.
'Merseysign', backed by Greater Merseyside Learning & Skills Council and the Objective 1
European Social Fund Programme (Government Office North West) is a three-year project
that will offer 36 students an opportunity to develop Biitish Sign Language (BSL) and
Interpreting skills and to support Deaf people in a variety of workplaces across the region.
UCLan's Deaf Studies Team will deli ver two training programmes for the MSDP with 18
students on each programme.
The long-term aim of the project is to increase the economic activity and employability of
Deaf people on Merseyside and beyond, giving them greater access to paid employment,
promotion and training.
John Brennan, Chief Executive of the Merseyside Society for Deaf People, said:
"Thousands of deaf people on Merseyside use sign language but from the high street to the
job centre, there is a massive shortfall of interpreters. It's not surprising that deaf people are
twice as likely to be unemployed as people in general. Thanks to the Merseysign project,
we will soon be in a position to reverse this trend. An added bonus is that through the
creation of a niche market SNIE, we'll also be able to provide guaranteed employment
opportunities for Sign Language Interpreters on Merseyside and the North West."
There are currently only 199 Members of the Register of BSL/English Interpreters
(MRSLI) in Britain to serve an estimated 70,000 Deaf BSL users. In a recent research
project undertaken by UCLan 's Deaf Studies Department, one deaf interviewee revealed
that, in 36 years of employment with the same company, he had never had access to an
Frank Hanington, Senior Lecturer in Deaf Studies at UCLan, said the implications of the
Disability Discrimination Act were now beginning to bite. ''The Govemment has recently
recognised BSL as an official UK language and employers are increasingly being made
aware of their legal obligations towards deaf employees.
-more to follow-
However there is still a critical skills shortage in the UK for BSL inteIrprIeter s. 'M'erse'ysign''
will enable the region to take significant steps towards improving the situation of Deaf
people living on Merseyside."
A picture opportunity will be available at the Merseyside Society for Deaf People,
Queens Drive, West Derby Ll3 ODJ on Friday 17 October at 2.00pm.
Notes to Editor
The Merseyside Society for Deaf People has delivered services and support to the Deaf
Community on Merseyside for 100 years. It offers a professional 'one stop shop' of
services and its vision is to continually improve communication and services that will
enable Deaf, Deafened and Hard of Hearing people to be fully empowered. Many of the
staff are themselves Deaf, Deafened and Hard of Hearing.
UCLan is one of the best-known centres for sign language learning and interpreting in the
UK. It is a centre of excellence in Deaf Studies, sign language interpreting and one of the
largest providers of BSL teaching in the North West region.
Figures for the Royal National Institute for the Deaf show that more than three million
people of working age (16-65) are deaf or hard of hearing. 153,000 of these are severely or
profoundly deaf.
British Sign Language (BSL) is the first or preferred language of around 70,000 people in
the UK.
About 2 million people in Britain wear hearing aids, maybe another million would benefit
from doing so. Almost all deaf and hard of hearing people rely on lip reading to some
The British Deaf Association's Learn to Sign' Week 2003 is currently taking place.
For further information contact:
David James, Merseyside Society for Deaf People on: 0151 228088 or 077298 48326
Frank Harrington at the Department of Deaf Studies at the University of Central Lancashire
on: 01772 89 3701

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