Overcoming a world full of barriers

By Richard Platt, Ipswich Deaf Children’s Society

Being profoundly Deaf myself since birth has certainly given me a journey of ups and downs throughout my life.

Published in Suffolk Director Magazine, Winter 2021|22

Giving Back: Ipswich Deaf Children’s Society

I have overcome many challenges, like trying to understand how the ‘Hearing World’ works for someone like me who cannot hear anything at all. It is therefore an inspiration to others when they see how I, not only conquered the language barriers to use both sign language and lip-reading, but also how I became Chairman of a local charity whose mission is to support Deaf children and their families across Suffolk.

Due to expanding our network of events around the county and reaching out to families of Deaf children (who have no knowledge about us and what we can do for them), Ipswich Deaf Children’s Society has grown quite rapidly over the last few years. The charity has a committee of eleven volunteers who each possess skills that are an asset to our cause, and who put forward ideas to bring the families of Deaf children across Suffolk together and support their needs.

We organise activities for Deaf children, host events to raise much needed funds, and provide advice and support to parents of Deaf children around their educational needs, or disability benefits.

An empathy for being deaf

There are over 97 Deaf children based in Ipswich and the surrounding districts and I can totally empathise with what they are going through on an everyday basis, both at home and at school.

There is a steep learning curve with communication, especially with activities outside of schools as there are language barriers everywhere. It is common knowledge that a lot of people don’t know how to talk to those that are Deaf. People put their hands over their mouths while they speak to us, which means we can’t lip-read; they mumble their words or speak very quickly which makes it hard for us to understand. A lot of Deaf people will misunderstand words the first time, so require patience and repetition to ensure a successful and barrier-free communication.

Another way to break down those barriers is through Deaf Awareness Training, which can truly open doors as well as raising an understanding on the support Deaf people need.

For instance, I discovered that it was really difficult for Deaf children to learn how to swim, because once they are in the water and they remove their hearing aids, they are unable to understand instructions from the teacher. So, I arranged Deaf Awareness Training for the swimming instructors to learn sign language. As a result, swimming lessons are now being run regularly at First Strokes near Sproughton, and my office walls are covered with swimming certificates.

How businesses and individuals can help

Next year we are planning a prestigious Summer Ball at Ipswich Town Football Club for 200 guests, and we are looking for businesses and individuals that would be willing to sponsor the event or donate auction prizes, that we can use to raise funds for our charity.

Together we can break down barriers and inspire the Deaf children to succeed in themselves!

If you are able to support the Ipswich Deaf Children’s Society, or you would like to have some Deaf Awareness Training to break down language barriers, then please get in touch with Richard Platt by
E: ipswichdeafchildren@outlook.com  or visit theidcs.org/the-idcs-blog-page

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