Halloween Coffee & Crafts

CoCreate are back with us for another Coffee & Crafts at Bournemouth Deaf Club on Friday 27th October 2023. 10am-1pm. This event is free to attend and open to anyone in the d/Deaf or Hard of Hearing community. BSL communication and all materials provided. Come together in a welcoming space and get creative with the support of professional artists.


FREE SIM cards to help improve digital inclusion within the d/Deaf community

Mobile phones now make it possible for deaf people to enjoy immediate communication and give them the independence to have real-time conversations and exchange information. Smart phones give access to a range of video calling apps such as FaceTime, WhatsApp Call, Facebook Messenger, Skype and Glide as well as video relay apps and a whole range of subtitling apps and entertainment apps with BSL and/or closed captioning.

WDDA has been awarded 50 Pay as You Go SIMs by Vodaphone (that each come with 20GB data plus unlimited calls and texts each month for a period of six months) as part of their Charities.connected initiative. If you are are d/Deaf or Hard of Hearing, live in Wiltshire or Dorset and would benefit from 20GB of data plus unlimited UK calls and texts every 30 days for six months please comment below, message us or email admin@wdda.co.uk by NO LATER than Monday 31st July 2023 (SIM cards must be activated by 19 August 2023).

Social Coffee Morning

Join Wiltshire and Dorset Deaf Association for a social coffee morning at Bournemouth Deaf Club on Friday 14th July 2023.

– Coffee & Cake
– Natter
– Scrabble and table games
– Quiz

This event is open to anyone in the d/Deaf or Hard of Hearing community. No need to book. Drop into Bournemouth Deaf Club 10am-1pm. Email Zoe at admin@wdda.co.uk or call/text 07793284109 for more information.


Christmas Crafts with CoCreate!

Being creative is good for you! The winter months can be difficult for many of us and our mental health. While we’re all familiar with the stats on one in four people in the UK experiencing mental ill-health, in the deaf community the prevalence of mental illness can range from 30–60%. The main thing it often comes down to is communication. Some deaf individuals feel incredibly isolated due to not being able to hear or speak with others easily, which can have a knock-on effect on their mental wellbeing.

Wiltshire & Dorset Deaf Association is joining forces with CoCreate Dorset (CIC) and Bournemouth Deaf Club to create a warm, welcoming and accessible space for the d/Deaf and Hard of Hearing community to come together to socialise and develop creative and practical skills through visual arts projects.

CoCreate has a proven track record of working closely with the Deaf community in Dorset and supporting people to express their ideas and experiences through creative means.

Join us for some Christmas Crafts with CoCreate at Bournemouth Deaf Club on Friday 16th December 2022.

This event is open to anyone in the d/Deaf or Hard of Hearing community. BSL interpreter and all materials provided.
Come together in a warm, welcome space and get creative with the support of professional artists.


No need to book. Drop into Bournemouth Deaf Club 10am-2pm.

Email Zoe at admin@wdda.co.uk or call/text 07793284109 for more information.

‘Signature Hall of Fame’!

Congratulations to Paul Kirby for being shortlisted from over 250 nominations to be included in the ‘Signature Hall of Fame’ of people who have advanced the cause of the Deaf Community and their rights of equal access to information, education and services in their own Language, BSL.

Paul was nominated by his employer, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) for his unstinting efforts to develop Deaf Awareness and Sign Language skills across the CQC and care institutions, locally and nationally. In addition, he is much loved and admired by both the Dorset Deaf Community, as an inspirational role model & champion of BSL and the hearing community who have experienced his wonderful talent as a communicator and teacher. Many of us can testify to the influence he has had on our lives. He says he doesn’t want nominations and awards and that his reward is seeing the smiles on the faces of people that benefit from the exposure to British Sign Language and the gathering pace of its inclusion in the fabric of society, bringing Deaf and hearing people together in equal opportunity.

Well done Paul, and very best wishes for the formal recognition of your achievements at the awards ceremony in November, at the National Football Museum in Manchester.

Signature announce shortlist for Hall of Fame event – Signature

Celebrating Gwen Raggett MBE

We would like to share with you another celebration of the achievements of deaf and hard of hearing people in our local community and today we are featuring Gwen Raggett MBE. Now a spritely 96-year-old, great grandmother, Gwen has been hard of hearing all her life though perhaps only being diagnosed during her World War II service in the Women’s Land Army aged 19. At that time, she was a charge hand for a group of 100 girls from all over the UK, working and living together in Redenham House, Weyhill near Andover. She recalls that some of the girls thought her aloof and stuck up, probably, she now realises, through her not always hearing or responding appropriately to their conversation and the tendency like many deaf people to withdraw from group social interactions. Her astute mistress and mentor noticed her behaviour and correctly ascribed it to her hearing loss rather than indifference or snobbery. Remarkably Gwen had excelled at school, even winning a scholarship to Talbot Heath Girl’s Schools that regrettably her parents barred her from taking up, partly through being unable to afford the cost of her uniform but also through a belief that a young woman’s place is in the home as a housewife and mother rather than pursuing a short-lived career. Prior to her diagnosis and the issue of smaller transistorised body worn hearing aids on the NHS, Gwen had relied on her naturally acquired ability in lip reading to follow one to one conversation. She acquired her first hearing aid in her late 30’s at the same time her younger son, George was also diagnosed with a mild hearing loss as a result of the national screening program set up in the 1950’s to identify school children with a hearing loss and hence to provide technical aids and educational settings best suited to their needs. As with many parents of deaf children then and still today, she was tenacious in her efforts to ensure the best possible outcomes for him. Of course, she had her own experience of deafness and so, well understood the issues of living and learning with hearing loss and the pros and cons of body worn hearing aids. She used this knowledge to challenge the perceptions of both medical and educational experts who did not have this first-hand life experience. Looking back, she was an early champion of raising deaf awareness in these institutions.

An interest in family history research and with support from her daughter in law led to the revelation that there is a long history of hereditary hearing loss In her family beginning with her great, great grandmother, Elizabeth Court, born in Weymouth and who was herself described as “deaf from birth” in the 1871 census when she was 39 years old, as indeed were several of her children. Prior to the 1871 census this information was not routinely recorded. Many of Gwen’s close relatives, brothers, nephews, nieces, grand and great grandchildren also developed hearing loss, seemingly starting from about 7–8 years of age. Such hereditary hearing loss is relatively uncommon, when statistically, 9 out 10 deaf children are born to hearing parents with no family history of early onset of hearing loss. Her own family would no doubt provide an interesting genetic study for this condition. Since her Land Army days from 1943–1949, Gwen has continued to dedicate herself to the service of others in the Women’s Royal Voluntary Service, WRVS, (now homogenised to RVS) for over 55 years and with her work in Bournemouth Libraries Home Book service and further voluntary work with Stroke patients and their families. In 2004 Gwen received the MBE from her majesty the Queen for these services and only stopped when the Covid pandemic gave rise to local council policy of not allowing people aged over 65 to work in these voluntary capacities. Despite this, Gwen has kept herself busy corresponding with former colleagues and customers by letter, phone and occasional visits to drop off birthday and Christmas gifts. She has also been in demand to recount her personal testimony of her life in the Land Army for various projects and exhibitions to show case and record this important history for future generations. Her personal story has been included in a recently published book; “Remarkable Women of World War II” by Victoria Panton Bacon, The History Press (ISBN 978 0 7509 9996 0) Her illustrated story can also be found on the Women’s Land Army website. Gwen keeps herself up to date with the work of Wiltshire and Dorset Deaf Association that she has supported since it’s inception in 2007 and their signing choir, Significance, donating equipment and funding for social activities. She is one of many deaf and HOH people who have enriched the lives of their own families and countless others they have met in their life’s journey, ever cheerfully and uncomplainingly. All of them role models for all with any level of hearing loss that they too can contribute to their local communities and wider society when given the opportunity.

Gwen Raggett MBE

Music to Deaf Ears

Congratulations to Evelyn Anne Riggs on passing her Music Teachers Board, Performance Keyboard Grade 1 examination, with Merit. Evelyn has been deaf since birth and struggled in early life due to a lack of suitable technology for her type of hearing loss and several failed operations from the age of 10. Then, 40 years ago in 1982, she became one of the first people in the UK to be fitted with a Bone Anchored Hearing Aid (BAHA) that she says transformed her life.

Evelyn Anne Riggs

Evelyn has a deep passion for music and learned to play piano and keyboard. She has a beautiful singing voice and is a member of the voice choir at St Clements Church, Poole. Evelyn studied British Sign Language (BSL) part time, at Bournemouth and Poole College, achieving her Level 1 qualification taught by Paul Kirby and continues to develop her skills, attending workshops with WDDA. In 2011 she became one of the founding members of the WDDA Signing Choir, Significance and subsequently, St Clements Signs in Worship Group from 2015.

For both, she is always the first to arrive and last to leave at weekly practices and performances. Her determination, unruffled and stoical character makes her a wonderful role model for Deaf and Hard of Hearing people in performing songs and music in these diverse and expressive forms. Well done Evelyn and all good wishes for your continuing development and sharing of your passion.

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