UBCO health forum to feature interpreters for deaf community

Lake Country resident Arlene Brenner finds two interpreters to take part in Norm Letnick health forum Saturday at UBCO

Lake Country deaf advocate Arlene Brenner says it is a step in the right direction when it comes to services for the deaf community.

Brenner, who unsuccessfully ran for Lake Country council last fall, was successful in finding two interpreters to take part in a health forum on mental health and well being hosted at UBCO on Saturday by Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick.

In an interview with the Lake Country Calendar, Brenner expressed frustration with the lack of planning for people who are deaf or hard of hearing who would like to take part in the forum. But she said she was finally able to secure two interpreters through the Deaf, Hard of Hearing and Deaf-Blind Well-Being Program in Burnaby.

“It’s really exciting. This is wonderful news,” said Brenner. “This is a good step in the right direction.”

Brenner had been trying to find an interpreter to take part in the health forum as she says many seniors in the area suffer from hearing loss as well as many people who may have lost hearing due to work.

Brenner was born deaf and says the general community has a long way to go in understanding how important it is to better provide services for those that are hard of hearing or deaf.

“People don’t understand or think about it but I want people to know,” she said. “Everything should be equal. Hearing, deaf, hard of hearing. We should be equal.”

Although born deaf, Brenner is able to communicate by speaking and sign language and is also proficient at reading lips.

She said more needs to be done, especially by government organizations to provide interpreters or closed captioning during public events such as health forums.

She said many deaf people deal with depression and other issues because they cannot hear properly.

Letnick’s health forum on Saturday will take place from 1 to 3 p.m. at the UBCO engineering and management building.