Health Deafinitions came to life because of the aspirations of emerging Deaf professionals looking beyond ‘helping’ their community, but empowering them. Ranjit Singh, Jamil Zaman and Gohar Nisar all found their own way to defy the low expectations placed on them by those that surrounded them early in life. Barriers, struggles and negative influences initially prevented and discouraged them from getting more out of life. Such were overcome by seizing opportunities to rise-up and achieve in higher education and professionalism. Each saw the missing gaps of knowledge that confront Deaf people in many aspects of life could attained. They engaged in projects that were based on community development and mentoring. These grew into establishing Deafinitions as not just a social enterprise, but an environment for empowering Deaf people.
From 2007 to 2010 the enterprise was to firmly establish the needs of the community, and work out a starting point for our mission of empowerment. With Jamil’s background as a qualified and experienced social worker, and each having their difficulties with accessing and understanding health, they decided to develop and pilot a visual BSL video with 3D graphics explaining diabetes. While touring the England and demonstrating the video to Deaf groups, they found that Deaf people were astonished and thirsty for more accessible health information in BSL. Viewers applauded having something that was more than just a translation, and many that had diabetes learnt more in minutes than they had in a life-time of being a diabetes patient. Health Deafinitions had struck a chord with the community. This led to partnering with the Wakefield Primary Care Trust in 2009 to research Deaf health and social care access and experiences. This ground-breaking research further established that the Deaf community needed information in BSL.
Today Health Deafinitions is run from an ambitious sized premises near Barnsley, South Yorkshire. We are supported by the Regional Growth Fund, Enterprise Barnsley, the Tudor Trust and the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation. We are members of the Barnsley and Rotherham Chamber of Commerce. Health Deafinitions also runs various community projects ranging from support groups or volunteer opportunities. The variety of professionals on our staff provide training and mentoring for a growing number of volunteers, who are usually Deaf and unemployed, looking for new opportunities for career and experience development. We continue to engage the community at all stages of development to ensure that we are producing community based solutions for Deaf health inequalities.
(Image courtesy of Enterprising Barnsley)