Diversity and Disability

Deafness Debated in the Scottish Parliament


For proof that hearing loss doesn’t have to be a barrier to achieving your goals in life then look no further than Julie McElroy.

Born prematurely and later diagnosed with both cerebral palsy and profound sensory neural hearing loss, Julie is a prolific campaigner on disability issues in her home city of Glasgow.

Recently she has turned her attention to raising awareness of deafness, hearing loss and the need for a structured and disciplined hearing care regime.

Julie teamed up with the hearing aid dispenser who helped her find an effective solution for her own impairment, Greg Clements of The Hearing Company.

The two of them have prepared a short educational film on hearing care matters, which is being unveiled at the Scottish Parliament later this month in readiness for Deaf Awareness Week (28 June – 4 July).

Julie said: “Having a hearing impairment is one of the worst social disabilities a person can experience.  My deafness wasn’t diagnosed until I was five years old and without hearing aids I can’t pick up any sounds unless they are exceptionally loud, such as a fire alarm or ambulance siren.

“The Hearing Company kindly offered to assist me in finding a hearing aid system that would allow me to make the best use of the hearing I have left.

“My speech and my hearing remain the most common difficulties I have out of everything else but I am so grateful to them for the improvements achieved and the positive impact this has had on my life.”

According to the Scottish Council on Deafness, there are just over one million people in Scotland who have some degree of hearing loss.  The figure for the whole of the UK is around nine million.

That desire to help people hear better is now reaching further out into the community with Julie and Greg screening their film for the first time on 24 June at Holyrood.

The screening is being preceded by a parliamentary members’ debate on deafness and hearing loss following a motion lodged by Bill Kidd, MSP for Glasgow. For more information click here

Julie hopes both events will help raise awareness of hearing loss and ways in which those affected by it can access help and advice. 

She said: “We are launching the campaign just before the start of Deaf Awareness Week, which is a well established industry event designed to improve understanding of different types of deafness and the many different methods of communication used by deaf, deafblind and hard of hearing people.

“I know through personal experience how difficult and isolating hearing loss can be.  If sharing my story will make more people feel motivated to take better care of their hearing or seek support if they are having problems then it’s certainly worthwhile.”

To see a preview of the Julie’s film with The Hearing Company visit

Diversity and Disability

Big Issues Scotland

Independent Living Big Issue supplement; “Rights Here Rights Now”.   

You can read real life stories about the reality of independent living from across Scotland and find out what it will take to make rights the reality for all disabled people.

Pam Duncan, Policy Officer, Independent Living in Scotland Project, interviews Julie for the Big Issues Scotland to find out how she hopes to address the media protrayal of disabled people in Scotland. Find out more about Julie’s mission, the next issue is out on Monday 14th June.

Be sure to visit your local Big Issue vendor next week from Monday 14th June 2010 to pick up your copy which includes the supplement in the centre of next week’s edition

Technologies/Media/New Media

Supporting Students To Engage Meaningfully In The Learning Process

Supporting Students To Engage Meaningfully In The Learning Process on Tuesday 15 June.

Julie an IT Graduate has been asked by Scotland’s Colleges to  present a presentation on the role of assistive technologies in supporting students.

This is the first of several network events planned for practitioners who are learning and teaching students with significant additional support needs. The focus of this event is supporting students to engage meaningfully in the learning process. As with most inclusive practice, many of the methodologies and communication tools designed for improving accessibility for students with barriers to learning are helpful for everyone.

In addition there will be an update on what is going on nationally in response to learners with severe and complex learning disabilities and the relevance of Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) 16+ Learning Choices to this group of learners.

This informal, interactive event will provide an opportunity for practitioners to share practice, network, identify priorities for future staff development events and be updated on national initiatives which will inform and support their practice.