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Sign Language Week will be celebrated this year from Monday 13 March until Sunday 19 March.
Deafness and hearing loss are faced by one-in-six people in the UK.
Derbyshire has some of the highest numbers in the country of Deaf and hard-of-hearing people living and working here, proportionate to our population, which is why it’s vital that we support our community.
Today (Monday 13th March 2023) marks the start of Sign Language Week 2023 and we want to remind Deaf communities, and those who support them, of the ways you can contact us in case of an emergency.
If you come across or are involved in an emergency, you can use your phone to text the emergency services for help. You must register your mobile phone number in order to use this service.
You can register by sending a text message to the number 999, with the word ‘Register’ and follow the simple instructions.
You can also visit the emergency SMS website, where you will find more information about the service, including videos which are delivered in British Sign Language.
You can also contact us via the 999BSL app and web-based platform in which you can access via a button ‘Call 999 BSL now’. You will immediately be connected to a remote BSL interpreter who will then relay your conversation onto the emergency operator. The app is extremely simple and easy to use, with a single button needed to connect to an interpreter. 999 BSL has been set up so that no deaf person will be excluded when they need to make an emergency call, therefore saving lives.
A number of resources are available on our website that may be of use on our website highlighting:
Sign Language Week this year will be running from 13th – 19th March and is run on an annual basis by the British Deaf Association (BDA). It’s celebrated each year in March to coincide with the anniversary of the recognition of BSL by the British Government in 2003.
The theme for Sign Language Week 2023 is: “Protecting BSL”.
Disability Engagement Officer Pete Rawlings, of Derbyshire Constabulary, said: “There are a number of ways we make sure we’re supporting our Deaf and hard of hearing communities, and this has meant we’re the only police force in the country to receive the Royal National Institute for Deaf people (RNID) charter mark ‘Louder than Words’ and maintain it since 2010.
“The RNID also have some useful tips on how to communicate with someone who is Deaf or is hard of hearing at: How to communicate with someone who is deaf or has hearing loss - RNID”.
“We also have strong links with not only the community, but organisations in Derby and Derbyshire including the North Derbyshire Deaf Forum. The variety of community links has also been assisted by our evolving PLOD team (Police Link Officers for people who are Deaf), which comprises of 10 staff and officers qualified in British Sign Language, Deaf awareness and Deaf equality”.
“These officers have made community links across the City and County and continue to build on these relationships. We also have 12 new officers who will begin their British Sign Language training soon, taking our PLOD team up to 22, not to mention that we are also involved in the regional PLOD team”.
“A Facebook page has also been set up for this dedicated team and allows us to reach out to the Deaf community, as well as enabling them to reach out to us”.
“Deaf volunteers from around the county also attend our Police Deaf Advisory Group, who support and advise us on our Deaf Action Plan, and we have worked in conjunction with the British Deaf Association (BDA) and made significant changes in building confidence within the Deaf community, encouraging them to use our SMS service and explaining the difference between emergency and non-emergency situations which included a series of films made by the Deaf community which can be seen on our internet and the PLOD Facebook page.”
Visit the PLOD Facebook page here.
Find out more about how we support our Deaf community here.