Barnsley Deaf Day

A conversation with Rachel Barden, technical officer at South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust.

Launched last year, BT’s Next Generation Text (NGT) service helps people with hearing and speech impairments to communicate from wherever they are.

The service has proved to be a big hit. In fact, since the launch, BT’s ‘inclusion squad’ has been busy travelling up and down the country to demonstrate the benefits of NGT to users and potential users.

In May, BT’s Dave Barrett caught the train to South Yorkshire to show NGT at the local NHS Foundation Trust’s ‘Barnsley Deaf/hearing loss information’ event.

Event organiser Rachel Barden is a technical officer in Barnsley Health Service’s Equipment, Adaption & Sensory Impairment service.

Here she explains a little about her role and reveals how Barnsley Deaf Day went:

Hello Rachel – what are the main responsibilities of your job?

I’m part of a team that assesses the requirements for many different people in the Barnsley area.

My job is all about hearing. So I work with people who are hard of hearing through age, or people who go beyond ‘hard of hearing’ because of an accident or illness. I also work closely with the deaf community.

I assess and fit various pieces of equipment for people with a hearing loss to use. For example, amplified phones, door-bells, paging systems, smoke alarms, baby monitors and alarm clocks. Plus I help provide in-depth demonstrations of this type of equipment.

I’m also here to encourage people with a hearing loss to use new services – for instance type talk services including BT’s NGT service.

Tell us about Barnsley Deaf/hearing loss Awareness Day

We’ve been holding our Awareness Days for a few years now and they are always wildly popular. It’s an opportunity for us to team up with our friends from local and national hearing loss charities and equipment companies to raise awareness of the support available in the area.

We held this year’s event on May 20th in a shop usually being used to promote the ‘Tour de Yorkshire’. I’m so pleased because we attracted huge amount of enthusiastic visitors as well as representation from 21 agencies. It was a busy day for many of us – including Dave Barrett from BT.

You invited Dave so people could learn more about NGT?

Yes and he was run off his feet. People were so interested in NGT. They wanted to find out more about how the service works so he did many, many demonstrations for new users and various healthcare professionals.

People really loved trying out the NGT equipment. One lady, there with her daughter, was really impressed with how easy it was to use. Her daughter is now going to see if it can be installed on her own work computer so she doesn’t have to use the Mincom. Another lady wanted the NGT app installed on her phone so her insurance company could call her. Once it loaded and working she was so happy.

All in all having the NGT demonstration proved to be a big plus for the event. I also think it was a really good test-bed for BT. There were definitely one or two observations made by users on the day that could go to help BT to make NGT even better.

Why do you think it’s important for people who may be hearing impaired to take advantage of communications technology Rachel?

Because otherwise they’d be cut off and shut off from normal everyday life.

You know, it’s all about accessibility and self-empowerment. They would have to rely on others all the time. Personal information would no longer be personal. I know lots of deaf people who, even though they need an interpreter, would rather do without.

That’s where services like NGT can come in and make a difference. It gives deaf, hearing and speech impaired people greater freedom and flexibility and allows them to communicate in real time, from a variety of locations – just like anybody else with a mobile phone, tablet or laptop.

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