Wolverhampton's Adult Education Service has been nominated for awards for making its courses and services accessible to all members of the community.

It was nominated twice in the Inclusive Social Activities category at the Accessible Britain Challenge Awards - once for its Access to Higher Education Art and Design course and a second time for its new Deaf Café.

The Accessible Britain Challenge encourages organisations to be inclusive and accessible, working with disabled people to remove barriers that stop them from participating fully in their community.

The Access to Higher Education Art and Design course is a 2 year, part time programme taking students right up to university entrance level. It is built around the needs, interests and abilities of individual students, who receive lots of personal and academic support along the way.

It was nominated for an award by former student Ray Jackson, who joined the course after experiencing mental health problems. His doctor suggested Ray take up art to aid his recovery, and after completing the course he found work at Penn Hospital offering arts and crafts activities to patients there.

He said: "If you knew me before, you wouldn't recognise me now. The Access course changed my life."

Meanwhile, the Adult Education Service's new Deaf Café, launched in November 2014 to support the local deaf community, was nominated for an award by student Christine Lester.

One in 7 people in the UK have some form of hearing loss, and Deaf Cafés are a great way to combat the isolation which can result.

Open to the public, the deaf cafe meets every other Thursday from 1pm to 3pm in the Foyer Café, with staff on hand to take orders for food and drink using British Sign Language (BSL).

Christine, who is currently taking a BSL course, said: "I really enjoy the experience of being involved in the 'deaf' world and learning skills to communicate. The café is helping to break down communication barriers and support more members of the community."

Mirriam Banks, who is profoundly deaf, said: "The Deaf Café gives me a chance to get out and about, mix with friends and meet new people."

Erica Wilson, another BSL student, added: "I am losing my hearing, so having something like the Deaf Café lets me improve my sign language skills which I may rely on later as my main method of communication."

Sue Knottenbelt, of Wolverhampton Adult Education Service, said: "We try to ensure that all our activities are as inclusive as possible, and I am delighted that 2 areas of our services were nominated for these Accessible Britain Challenge Awards."

The Accessible Britain Challenge Awards scheme was set up to publicly recognise organisations that are making an outstanding contribution towards communities being accessible and inclusive.

For more details about courses offered by Wolverhampton Adult Education Service, which was rated "Outstanding" by Ofsted in January, please call 01902 551658, please visit Type=links;Linkid=2102;Title=Wolverhampton Adult Education Service;Target=_blank; or email enquiries@aes.wolverhampton.gov.uk.

  • released: Wednesday 29 April, 2015