Seeing a GP, discussing financial affairs at a bank or even asking for a glass of water are simple enough activities for most of us. But imagine what that must be like without being able to hear or speak to others.
This is the reality for deaf people - but with the assistance of a fully-qualified sign language interpreter, they are able to lead indepedent lives.
Imagine how it must feel to have the access to such interpreters taken away. This has happened in Warwickshire - and campaigners in the south of the county are determined to do what they can to ensure that future generations of deaf people will not have their chance for independance taken away from them.
Ann Tibbetts has been campaigning for the deaf people of south Warwickshire to have access to interpreters since 1986. She said: “We campaigned for our own social services to be set up and that was achieved.
“The next campaign was for interpreters. Then the Coventry and Warwickshire Sign Languages Interpreting Service (CWSLIS) was set up. This has enabled us to lead independent lives and to have the same access to services as hearing people.”
Mrs Tibbetts, who also has vision problems, said that health services in the area recently started using cheaper interpreting services, which do not use fully-qualified interpreters.
And then just before Christmas, funding for CWSLIS was stopped. Following a Christmas filled with worry for deaf people across the region, it was announced last week that the funding would be brought back.
Mrs Tibbetts said: “We are trying to be independent, but we need interpreters.
“This funding is under review so we don’t know for how long this will last. We are deaf for life.”
Julie Wixey, who also lives in south Warwickshire, said: “When you are out and about, you just have to point. It would be nice to have more deaf awareness in the community. Organisations like the CWSLIS provide that awareness.
“If there were some basic sign languaging in public places, we would be over the moon. Communication breakdown is so frustrating.
“Quite often people talk to you as if you are a child. It’s patronising and you are at a disadvantage.”
Ruth Goode added: “Interpreting services are provided for foreign immigrants who have the ability to learn English, but not for deaf people, who cannot improve their English speaking skills.
“Just as wheelchair users need ramps, we need interpreters.”
But this lack of awareness comes as no surprise to this group of deaf people. Mrs Tibbetts said: “Deaf people are always at the bottom of the line.”
A Warwickshire County Council spokesman said that the county council part-funds the CWSLIS to enable deaf people to access county council services and to support deaf employees and hearing employees communicate with deaf colleagues. He said its level of funding has remained consistent with demand.
The CWSLIS also obtains funding for interpreting services for the deaf from other agencies, including banks, job centres and other local authorities. The CWSLIS declined to comment on the current funding situation other than confirming that it had obtained funding for interpreters last week.
To find out more about the CWSLIS, call 024 7652 0378, text to 07771 631115 or visit www.cwslis.co.uk