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Three ministers help launch Coalition for Deafness

Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness pictured yesterday at Stormont with the Kelly sisters at the launch of the 'Coalition on Deafness.' Pic credit: Hugh Russell.
John Monaghan

A new lobby group for those living with deafness and hearing loss has received the backing of three Stormont ministers.

Health Minister Simon Hamilton joined the First and Deputy First Ministers Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness at Stormont yesterday to launch the 'Coalition on Deafness'.

The group has produced a policy document which calls on the Executive to bring measures to support those who are deaf, deafblind or have hearing loss or tinnitus.

It also aims to ensure the north complies with obligations towards those who are deaf or have hearing loss under the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (UNCRPD).

The group says that people with hearing difficulties are more likely to be unemployed while deaf children also have lower levels of educational qualifications.

Jackie White from the Coaltion on Deafness said: "We have come together as one voice to lift the lid on the inequality that still exists in all aspects of daily living for people who have a hearing loss or tinnitus, or are deaf or deafblind."

He added: "We are calling on the NI Executive to put in place a cross-government strategy to meet the needs of this group as a matter of urgency."

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, who has tinnitus, said he had first hand experience of the challenges faced by sufferers.

He said: "I am acutely aware of the challenges a hearing impairment can have not just on the person, but their family, friends, relatives and work colleagues. We must make every effort to deliver measurable changes to the lives of people with disabilities and their support networks."

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