Around 250 people attended a retirement party for long-standing RNID-Action on Hearing Loss Northern Ireland director, Brian Symington, at Belfast’s Ramada Hotel.
Forefront of service developments
Brian has been at the forefront of service developments for deaf and hard of hearing people, from his early career as a Social Worker for the Deaf, and his involvement in the Ulster Institute for the Deaf, before merging with RNID in 1991.
As Northern Ireland Director, Brian began lobbying almost immediately for official recognition of sign languages, achieved in 2004, and an increase in the number of sign language interpreters. During the 90’s his research and campaigning led to local Health Boards funding interpreting services for deaf patients, and education providers providing interpreters for deaf students. A commitment of £1.3million for the training of interpreters and tutors was made by Government in 2006.
Brian established Ireland’s only specialist care service for deaf people with additional needs at Harkness Gardens, the specialist Mental Health and Deafness Service, and the Deaf Studies course for medical students at Queens University. He also developed unique projects to meet the needs of people with acquired hearing loss, including those deafened as a result of the Troubles.
This long and illustrious career was celebrated at the retirement function, with a number of speeches from colleagues and friends, from as far away as the USA. Brian was presented with a number of gifts, including a portrait of Wilton House and a donation to a deaf school project in Africa. The staff at RNID-Action on Hearing Loss would like to thank everyone who contributed so generously to the gifts, and to wish Brian well for the future.
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Communications and Campaigns Manager
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