LCC organises successful deaf awareness session for London based cycle trainers


Last Friday a group of cycle trainers representing a variety of London based cycle training organisations and cycling community projects attended a deaf awareness session organised by London Cycling Campaign and delivered by Mangai Sutharsan from Empowering Deaf Society.

The session was an introduction to British Sign Language and communication and included a section where participants learnt the specific signs to use when delivering cycle training. Participants also had the opportunity to reflect on how best to make their cycle training sessions accessible to deaf BSL users.

Empowering Deaf Society received one of the 21 2013 CCFL grants to deliver a programme to encourage deaf people to cycle. Due to linguistic and cultural barriers a majority of deaf people are unable to access the information and training provided to encourage and support Londoners to cycle. EDS will provide a series of informative workshops on the benefits of cycling, as well as mechanics and cycle training sessions accessible to deaf BSL users, working towards breaching that gap. "The idea is to encourage new cyclists amongst deaf BSL users in London, for whom owning and riding a bike is not the norm to use bikes as a means of transport. This project will look at the benefits of cycling in the community as a whole: health & fitness, financial & social gains and general wellbeing." said Mangai. "In addition to what is delivered to our own beneficiaries we will contact local cycling clubs to support and educate them to make themselves accessible and inclusive of deaf people". Mangai is delighted that EDS was awarded a CCFL grant to start this project. Public activities will be launched in early Spring.

The deaf awareness training session was also an opportunity for cycle trainers with no previous experience of working with deaf BSL users and those with some to network and share their knowledge and experiences working with the deaf community. "There’s a misconception that it must be dangerous for deaf people to cycle" says Carolyn Wilson of Cycle Training UK, who has trained both deaf and hearing people to ride bikes, "but this comes from the idea that you need to be able to hear in order to be safe in traffic. In fact, we teach all of our trainees that it's not enough to rely on your hearing to keep you safe. The only way to be truly aware of what's happening around and behind you is to actually look. Many of my hearing trainees could learn a lot from their deaf counterparts, who have already developed this kind of increased visual awareness". David Ptcher from Wheely Tots in Hackney said: "After attending the deaf awareness course I feel much more informed and confident about approaching our local deaf club to participate in our cycling sessions.  Just being able to sign my name and use basic sign language is a 100% improvement!

We will be reporting on the development of Empowering Deaf Society’s cycling project in future newsletters. For more information on the Community Cycling Fund for London please click here.