Oxford Deaf and Hard of Hearing Centre History
Oxford Deaf and Hard of Hearing Centre has over 800 years of fascinating history. Although the Centre has been on the current site since 1957, the site originally started out as a Dominican Priory. Not much remains of the Priory, but the arch of the gateway is preserved in “Tudor Cottage”, the building next door, which has housed a range of people including ironmongers and shoemakers. You can find out more about Tudor Cottage on our webpage about 10 Littlegate Street.
In 1832 a chapel was build next to Tudor Cottage, known as both Bulteels chapel and Adullam chapel. It was founded by the Revd. H.B. Bulteel and the chapel and balcony is now the Main Hall of the Oxford Deaf and Hard of Hearing Centre.
It was not until 1898 that the Oxford Diocesan Council for the Deaf was formed by Mrs. Frances Spooner. This led to the beginning of social work and a church for Deaf people in the area. The first Missioner was a Deaf man named Leigh Hossell (1867-1906).
In 1937 the building, including what is now the Centre’s Main Hall, was sold to the Oxford and District Co-Operative Society for use as an education centre and meeting hall. During the Second World War and until the end of rationing in 1954, the hall was used as a Food Office.
The New Centre for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing began in 1957. The hall was purchased back from the Co-Operative Society by the Oxford Diocesan Council for the Deaf, Oxford Deaf Centre, Oxford and District Hearing Club and the parents of the Deaf Children Association. These representatives acted as Trustees of the new Centre and there was also support from staff based at the Ear, Nose and Throat Department at the Radcliffe Infirmatory, including Mr R.G. MacBeth F.R.C.S, Mr. Gavin Livingstone, F.R.C.S and Miss Kathleen Jagger.
In 1958 the first chapel for the Deaf was established at the New Centre for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. Prior to this, church services for Deaf people had been held at various churches around Oxford. This chapel replaced the former chapel at the previous Deaf Centre in 65 Banbury Road.
The chapel was moved to a new site within the Centre in 1980, after the Tudor Cottage and 25 Norfolk Street had been bought and incorporated into the Centre. Regular services are still held in the chapel, in British Sign Language, by the Chaplain for the Deaf and by Lay Readers from the Deaf Church.
From 1979-1982 Tudor Cottage was used as an office for a joint project run by the DHSS and British Deaf Association to grow qualified British Sign Language class tutors. The project also increased training for lip-reading teachers, lip-speakers and note-takers.
In 1982 the Centre was renamed the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Centre, Oxford. Its offices were used by social workers for Deaf people and a sign language interpreter. In this year, the “Healing of a Deaf Man” window was installed in the chapel – you can find out more about this on our “Healing of a Deaf Man” webpage.
Both the centenary celebrations of the Oxford Diocesan Council for the Deaf and the 50th Anniversary of the Oxford and District Hard of Hearing Club were celebrated in 1998.
Deaf Direct took over responsibility for day-to-day running of the Centre in 2006-2008.
On Sunday 12th October 2008, 100 people attended the 50th year celebrations of the Oxford Deaf and Hard of Hearing Centre at a church service in the main hall. This was attended by the Bishop of Oxford, the Rt. Revd. John Pritchard and the Sign Cross Drama group, along with the Oxford Deaf Sign Language Choir.
What our clients are saying about us:
I am now doing level 2 and hoping to do level 3 – through this I have met Deaf/hard of hearing people and spoken to them. 2. I helped to volunteer for a Deaf charity at an information stall in a hospital. The first person to stop was Deaf so I chatted to him – it was great to use my BSL in a ‘real-life’ situation (outside class) for the first time!” 2013-14 academic year – BSL student
Excellent interpreter. This consultation would not have been possible without her. She had a good working relationship with the patient. The patient’s care was enhanced by her presence.
I love doing volunteer work. I wanted to give something back to Deaf Direct after they have done for me and the twins. Volunteering is great way to meet people in the community and most important of all, enjoy yourself!
It’s lovely to hear from you. I no longer live is Hereford and will be starting university in September to do my degree in Interpreting BSL/English.
Thank you – Deaf Direct really had a massive impact on this and without you all I wouldn’t be doing it. Wish me luck and I hope our paths cross again in the future
“Would you please pass on my thanks to the interpreter who volunteered to make this year’s annual Lights of Love service accessible to the deaf community of Worcester. The evening was a great success and, that is not least thanks to the ongoing support of your organisation.” November 2014 – Chaplain, St Richard’s Hospice, Worcester
XX was the best interpreter I have used in the 16 years of working with impairments. Not only was she 100% professional and warm, she was flexible, supportive for how we worked which made this complex interview relaxing. Thank you
Amazing how prompt and helpful everyone was. A new phone was delivered and fitted within 72 hours. We are so GRATEFUL. Thank you (13th April 2017)
‘pleased to see your tip of the week back!’
‘newsletter today very good. Enjoyed reading it.
I’m loving these newsletters! Thank you :o)
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