INSPIRATIONS: Talking hands open up channels of communication

THE POWER of communication has seen an attempt launched to bring two separate communities together.

In September, at the Weald and Downland Open Air Museum, in Singleton, the hearing and deaf worlds will come together for a day of canine exercise.

National charity Hearing Dogs for Deaf People is holding its flagship walk at the museum on September 21 and all are invited to go along to join in.

Diana Marangos from the charity said she was ‘praying for good weather’.

“We’re hoping we will get lots of people,” she said.

The charity trains dogs to help deaf people carry out day-to-day tasks.

Many local members from the charity are also playing a key role in another club that has recently been relaunched to help improve communication between deaf people and hearing people.

Diana’s friend Helen Duke, who was born deaf, has recently relaunched the Talking Hands British Sign Language Club.

Its main goal is to provide a communication point for people from the hearing and non-hearing worlds, something that is still all too rare in the 21st century.

“Helen’s wish is to welcome both the hearing world and the deaf world together so that each world can understand each other’s needs,” said Diana.

“We want to welcome everyone to have a place where the two worlds can meet, learn each other’s culture and have a pleasant evening.”

She added: “Deafness is an isolating disability because you’re walking along the street and people don’t know we’re deaf.

“With a blind person, they have either a stick or they’ve got a blind dog. You don’t see many hearing dogs for deaf people walking about. I’ve never seen another one apart from at hearing dog events, which I think is tragic.”

She said a frustration for a deaf person was when a hearing person told a joke, but would not repeat it when asked by the deaf person after everyone else laughed, saying the moment had passed.

The club meets in Ferring, but Helen is hoping to attract people from all over the county, with someone already coming all the way from Midhurst every Monday for the meetings, from 7pm-9pm.

“Everybody is welcome to come to the club and enhance the club by giving us their ideas on activities and things,” said Diana.

She and Helen said it was important to try to bring the two worlds together.

“That’s the big social problem in that, unfortunately, many of the born deaf want to keep separate from the hearing world. They need to be connected with the hearing world,” Diana added.

Helen took over the club four years ago after her friend passed away.

She recently rebranded it the Talking Hands Club, with the goal of welcoming in a broader range of people.

The club meets in the Glebelands Community Centre, in Greystone Road.

It involves games, charity work, general conversations, visits and many other activities, with its main aim around improving communication.

The Weald and Downland walk will take place between 10.30am-12.30pm, with everyone able to go at their own pace, with tickets for the fundraiser priced at £10 for adults and £5 for children.

The museum has also offered to allow free entry for the day to anyone buying a ticket for the walk. Visit

To contact Helen, email