I was born deaf but was not diagnosed until I was 7 years old which means I missed the most important development of a child’s life socially and educationally. I am the only deaf person in my family so I was bought up in the hearing world. I had a fantastic up bringing with my older brother and sisters, my hearing loss did not get in the way of what I wanted to do in life and my family were right behind me.
However this does not mean I didn’t I come across communication barriers and my education at school was a big disappointment and left with only one ‘O’ Level. I started to learn British Sign Language (BSL) in my early 20s and started attending my local Deaf Club. I loved it and then realised ‘yup I am not the only deaf person in the world’. I met so many different deaf people and learnt so much from meeting them all. I started to teach BSL which I adore and again met so many different people hearing and Deaf.
On my journey I have tried to support and guide some Deaf people who needed backing for a number of different reasons and some have been successful and some haven’t. This was becoming a frequent occurrence and I was becoming frustrated as I was limited as to what I can do. In 2014, myself and three other ladies got together to talk about the issues within the Deaf community. We listened to what the community wanted and we got into action and called ourselves Access Bedford.
We held an information day with the help of the Local MP, started to meet with the Mayor and he kindly invited the community to his parlour which was amazing. We set up an afternoon tea club for over 55s which they called themselves ‘Young at Heart’ at the Salvation Army café once a month. A Deaf Social has taken off and has become popular every two months at the Kings Arms in Bedford. Not forgetting the young people – there is a ‘Youth Club’ once a month. We have covered all ages and with this it gives them all a purpose to leave their homes and get out to socialize again. They know if they had any other ideas or need some support they know that Access Bedford is there to support them.