SOUTH Tyneside’s Mayor and Mayoress took part in an event for sign language users.
Coun Ernest Gibson and Patricia Ridley visited Caffè Nero, in King Street, South Shields, for the second Sign It Hear initiative.
It gives people the chance to enjoy a coffee and learn some sign language at the same time.
The event has been set up by community interest company, Sign It Hear, which is run by Julie New and Michelle Cook. The not-for-profit business has been operating for the past six months to identify deafness-related issues in the borough and run British Sign Language courses.
Coun Gibson said: “It was a pleasure to meet so many people from the South Tyneside deaf community.
“The Mayoress and I learned a great deal and even tried out a few sign language techniques. Events like these are a crucial way of being able to break down the barriers that currently exist surrounding deafness in society.
“I hope the event goes from strength to strength.”
Ms New, a voluntary director with Sign It Hear, said: “We always thought that the relaxed and comfortable café environment would be the perfect surrounding for our new evening event.
“Although positive inroads have been made into how deafness is perceived, a lot still needs to be done on the issue of communication.
“It would be an ideal world if sign language and other associated methods of conversing were readily available to deaf people in shops and other social settings.”
The Sign It Hear café event runs once a month. The next event is on March 27, between 6pm and 8pm. It is open to people of all ages.
People can get in touch with Julie and Michelle at Sign It Hear by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/signithear.