Meet Deaf NSW SES Wyong Volunteer Haley Martin

23/09/2019 01:50 PM

This week, the NSW SES is celebrating the International Week of the Deaf, which recognises the language and culture of Deaf individuals and the Deaf Australian community. Coinciding with the International and National Week of the Deaf is the International Day of Sign Languages (23 September).

Haley Martin is a volunteer with the NSW SES Wyong Unit who is deaf. She joined the Unit after becoming a Deaf Liaison Officer at the Deaf Society of NSW. Hungry for more information and wanting to gain a better knowledge of flood and storm awareness, Hayley signed up as a NSW SES volunteer to help to pass information on to the deaf community.

“With more than 300 people that are deaf and hard of hearing living on the Central Coast, I’m passionate about providing information to others where they do not have the ability to rely on radio messaging, or newsletters where English isn’t their first language,” says Haley.

“Communication with others was the biggest challenge initially. As a deaf person, it took a while to build on communication with other volunteers in the Unit. However, everybody was lovely and willing to help me with my training. They even knew how to meet my needs, as I rely on visual aids to understand certain processes, so they ‘showed’ me instead and let me feel, to help explain things to me.”

Haley is a perfect fit for NSW SES as she helps to provide storm and flood awareness information to members of the deaf community.

“There is nothing wrong with me physically,” Haley says, “I can still undertake the same jobs that other volunteers do. I can use mime and gesture to communicate with others. The only things that make me different is my ear, I can’t hear as I am profound deaf, so my eyes are my ears (see not hear). In terms of knowledge, I am employed as a support worker, teaching auslan.”

Haley says that fear shouldn’t stop anyone being deaf or hard of hearing from joining the NSW SES.

“Try to build on one thing at a time. Once you get to know the Unit volunteers, you will be amazed how similar we all are as people. I always come to SES smiling, feeling happy and willing to learn. Even other volunteers from my Unit were interested to learn about the Auslan interpreters and how they support me. The volunteers have been able to ask the interpreters to assist with showing them different signs so they can communicate better and get to know me which was nice.”

Sign languages are structurally distinct but equal in status to spoken languages. According to the World Federation of the Deaf, there are 72 million deaf people worldwide. Collectively, they use more than 300 different sign languages.

Haley is also involved in running 2 Get Ready Workshops for the Deaf Community. Nov 9th at the NSW SES Wyong Unit and Nov 16th at NSW SES Gosford Unit.

More information about National Auslan Communication for Emergencies can be found here:

Are you ready to get involved? Apply Now 

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