The Highland Deaf Centre was officially opened yesterday (Tuesday) by Councillor Olwyn Macdonald, Vice-Chairman of The Highland Council’s Housing and Social Work Committee.
Based in newly refurbished premises at 16 Kenneth Street, Inverness, the Highland Deaf Centre allows partnership agencies, offering a wide range of services to deaf and hard of hearing people throughout the Highlands, to operate from one accessible base. Part of the £80k refurbishment, funded by The Highland Council, includes the creation of a large multi-purpose space for holding training sessions, meetings and social events.
After welcoming guests to the official opening, Councillor Olwyn MacDonald said: "I am excited in the way we are moving forward in providing excellent services for deaf and hard of hearing people cross the whole Highlands. When I first became a Councillor many years ago there was little on offer so we really have come along way. This new Centre with it’s great facilities will be an important focal point and will make it much easier for partners to work together. I am sure the services will thrive and continue to grow stronger and bigger together and I wish the Centre and everyone involved a bright future."
The range of services operating from the Highland Deaf Centre includes; The Deaf Communications Project; The Hearing Support Service; Scottish Deaf Association; The Highland Council; and Inverness Deaf Social Club;
The Deaf Communication Project develops the training of tutors in sign language and promotes deaf awareness and British Sign language classes throughout the Highlands. It also supports the training of sign language and the teachers of lip reading and has been very successful in increasing the numbers of people able to sign. Jenny Liddell the Deaf Communication Project Manager said at the opening. "The Deaf Communication Project is delighted to be working with all our partners in the new Highland Deaf Centre and we look forward to further improving services for deaf and hard of hearing people in our communities and linking with our existing services already running in Lochaber and Caithness."
The Hearing Support Service offers advice, information, support and demonstration facilities and assesses people to use equipment. Hearing aids provided include pager systems to alert parents when their baby is crying, flashing front door bells and batteries for hearing aids. This service operates Monday, Thursday and Friday from 10am to 1pm.
The Scottish Deaf Association rents a room within the building for a Community Development Officer whose role it is to involve deaf communities so they can play a part in improving services and to provide personal advocacy to deaf people. The association also offers a video relay service.
The Inverness Deaf Social Club will continue to use the building for social meetings at weekends whilst they explore the possibility of taking on the building next door for their members.
The Centre provides a much needed "hot-desk" facility for The Highland Council’s Social Work and Deaf Education staff and other others who may be in Inverness on various duties. As well as sharing facilities it allows for links to be made with the range of services on offer from within the Centre.
The Centre will also be the base for a part-time worker in childrens services, hopefully soon to be appointed through a partnership between the Council, the National Deaf Children’s Society and the local Highland Deaf Children’s Society.
It is also intended to see the building offering opportunities to work more closely with the Audiology Service with support groups.