Charity on a mission to bridge the gap between the deaf and hearing communities

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Cumbria Deaf Association is on a mission to make Cumbria the most deaf aware county in England – and is launching a pop-up exhibition in the city centre to help make its dream a reality.

The charity will set up its exhibition on Paternoster Row in Carlisle for a week packed with education, information sharing, and fun. 

Not only will the pop-up provide vital support for the local deaf community, but it will also help individuals and businesses understand how to support them better. 

Caroline Howsley, general manager of Cumbria Deaf Association, said: “Deafness is a hidden disability, you can’t see it and people think you’re often being rude. 

“We want to get Cumbria to be the most deaf aware county in England for residents and visitors alike.”

To do that, they’re bringing a whole range of creative, and fun, resources to the exhibition. 

Making British Sign Language (BSL) more accessible and understood is one of the missions of CDA, and for visitors dropping into the pop-up next week, they will be met with gingerbread men, giant foam hands and flip cards with Islamic translations all depicting the finger spelling alphabet.

There will be a variety of businesses and groups attending the pop-up and supporting Cumbria Deaf Association throughout the week, including Electricity North West who have partnered with the charity this year. BID Cumbria will have a presence on Wednesday to promote their services and share information about adaptive equipment for people with hearing loss. 

The charity is keen to make their pop-up a unique experience to encourage people to get involved.

“It’s going to be awesome, we’re all looking forward to it. It’s something different for us and we’re putting a different energy out there,” said Caroline.

“Our pop-up at Intro’s offices is going to look like the weirdest aunt in the world has opened her front room for people to come and chat.

“It’s not stuffy, it’s just come talk to us, whatever your language and whatever your situation.”

They will also be providing resources for businesses to enable them to better support customers and staff members who are deaf. 

Cumbria Deaf Association offers workplace assessments as well as deaf awareness training, and they will be visiting local businesses with flyers that have the finger spelling alphabet on the back to help them communicate with their deaf customers. 

The aim is to make Cumbria the most deaf aware county in England – for both residents and visitors.

Caroline said: “We’re trying to bridge that gap between some of the knowledge between hearing communities and deaf communities, so it isn’t as intimidating.”

The Cumbria Deaf Association pop-up will be at the Intro headquarters on Paternoster Row from October 12 to 17 and will open between 10am-4pm. 

For more information about Cumbria Deaf Association, go to www.cumbriadeaf.org.uk.

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