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Blog: My evening at the Scottish Sensory Awards

I had such a great day at the ‘Communication for All’ Conference and Scottish Sensory Awards.  This was my first time at the event – and I’d definitely plan to go again next year. Held on the 15th March at the Glasgow Doubletree by Hilton Hotel, the day was expertly organised by deafscotland and Disability Equality Scotland.  Hundreds of people attended – all with an interest, personal or professional, in equality and life with deafness.

It was pleasing that people with all kinds of deafness were included – and all communication needs catered for.  Whilst I was wandering around the 17 marketplace stalls early on, I spotted a BSL user who I’ve seen on stage – and I wanted to chat – so she simply gestured a roving BSL interpreter over and we were all set!

I saw lots of familiar faces and caught up with quite a few people I haven’t spoken to for a long time.  It was such a friendly event that I was comfortable enough to have several interesting conversations with people I’d never met before as well.

Then in the main hall, the induction loop gave great clarity and thanks to the wonderful electronic notetakers and three huge screens, you could see everything which was said as well.  The team of BSL interpreters did a seamless job too, as did the interpreters for Deafblind people.  It was so good to be able to relax and concentrate on the messages issuing forth, rather than struggling to make any sense of speech.

With the theme of ‘Communication for all’, the keynote speaker was STV’s CEO Simon Pitts, followed by presentations from Tony Murphy of Phonak and Dr Paul Hart of Sense Scotland. I could follow so well that I was even able to take notes! With a wide choice of workshops, the three I selected were all relevant to my life, informative and thought provoking.

I was particularly impressed by Morven Brooks, CEO at Disability Equality Scotland, who spoke eloquently on Engaging and Communication with Disabled people.  I’ve vowed to check out the Inclusive communication Hub resource online soon.

Evening Award ceremony

The evening’s Awards ceremony was quite an exciting affair!  There were nine categories of award, with an almost Oscar style lead up to the announcement of runners up and (drum roll!) winner of each award. It was lovely to have such a celebration marking good practice across Scotland.   When Sally Shaw of Ideas for Ears was declared Sensory and Equality Champion of the year, I cheered!  I love Ideas for Ears ‘Hearing Access Protocol’ and bring it to people’s notice all the time, when they need to know how to make meetings and events accessible to people, whatever level of hearing they have.

At the ceremony, I sat beside Susan Shippey, the See Hear Sensory Lead for Edinburgh’s Health and Social Care Partnership, who’d been nominated for the same award as Fife’s Sensory Impairment Sub Group, in which I’ve been involved for some years now.

The award Edinburgh and Fife were nominated for was entitled ‘Outstanding Approach to Promoting Partnership Working Across all services for People with Sensory Loss in a specific local area (organisation / community group).

I was rooting for Edinburgh, as much I was for Fife, because, through Hearing Link,  I have been involved in the HALO project in Edinburgh which started in June last year and is funded by See Hear, so I know what a difference Susan’s collaborative work has made for Edinburgh service users.

The tension was building as the nominations for the award were read and the runners-up and outright winner announced, certificates and trophies handed over and photographs taken.

To my huge surprise, our Fife group was given a Runner Up Award in our category!  The winner was NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde with its mental health project.

Whilst I am delighted to be part of the Fife Sensory Impairment Sub group’s work in my local community, helping others with hearing loss, without a shadow of a doubt the real star is our See Hear leader, Jennifer Rezendes – it’s my firm opinion that without her drive and leadership, the See Hear projects running in Fife would never have happened.

Much later, travelling back to Fife after a very tasty celebration dinner, I felt thoroughly buoyed up by the positive energy and determination of so many people to make inclusive communication the standard across diverse communities.   Champions all.

Disclaimer: Any views or opinions represented in this blog are personal and belong solely to the blog owner and do not represent those of Hearing Link Services or Hearing Dogs for Deaf People unless explicitly stated.

Ann ThallonAnn has severe hearing loss and tinnitus which began in her 30s.  She volunteers for Hearing Link at our LinkUp groups, events, talks and is part of the HALO team providing support for audiology patients in Edinburgh.