Approximately 60 deaf and hard of hearing people, parents of deaf children and those working within the deaf community in Northern Ireland had a unique opportunity to raise issues that matter to them with a range of candidates for the Elections to the Northern Ireland Assembly on 5 May 2011.
The event was held At Kinghan Church, and chaired by Donna Traynor, a BBC Northern Ireland news presenter who has a hearing loss herself. The prospective Assembly members faced an hour and a half of tough questioning on issues ranging from access to bilingual education for deaf children, access to the arts and sport, increasing employment opportunities for deaf and hard of hearing people, access to public services, and involvement of deaf people in political life. The event ended with the panel of politicians being taught by a deaf teacher how to sign “Please vote for me”.
The panel; Peter Weir DUP, Judith Cochrane Alliance, John Dallat SDLP and John McAllister all ended the evening commenting on how much they had appreciated the opportunity to engage with the issues concerning deaf and hard of hearing people, and vowed to be champions of the issues if elected on 5 May 2011.