Wedding venue staff learn sign language for deaf couple
A deaf couple from Northern Ireland have praised staff at their wedding venue who received special training in sign language for the big day.
Samantha Maher and Luke Davis, from Limavady and Antrim, tied the knot at the Roe Park Resort in Limavady last weekend.
To ensure the happy couple had the wedding of their dreams, the staff undertook sign language training from the Hands That Talk charity.
This improved their non-verbal communication skills, enabling them to converse with the couple and a number of other guests who also have hearing difficulties.
As well as the staff training, the couple enlisted the help of a friend and sign language interpreter to make sure all the guests were involved throughout the ceremony and the speeches.
The newlyweds first crossed paths four years ago while enjoying a day of go-karting.
After love blossomed off the race track, they got engaged with a special proposal written in rose petals.
The couple said: "Our wedding was everything we had dreamed of and more, it was the best day of our lives, which we will remember forever.
"We were so impressed that the staff at Roe Park had gone to so much effort on our special day and made all our guests feel included.
"Roe Park Resort is a great example of a business that is doing more to support people with disabilities - something which we both feel businesses in Northern Ireland could improve upon.
"We loved that the staff were all so eager to test out their training and would like to thank them for going the extra mile to ensure our day was amazing."
Sinead McNicholl is the sales and marketing manager at Roe Park Resort.
"We were absolutely delighted that Samantha and Luke chose Roe Park as the wedding venue for their special day," said Sinead.
"In addition to the Hands That Talk sign language training, we also offer a specialist Autism Friendly Room certified by Assistance Dogs NI and the National Autistic Society.
"It is important that every guest at the resort is made to feel like a VIP, and the staff and I send our warmest congratulations to Samantha and Luke and wish them many happy years together."
According to government figures, more than 200,000 people in Northern Ireland are deaf or hard of hearing.
This can range from mild deafness, in which people can have difficulty understanding conversation in noisy situations, to profound deafness, where sign language is often the preferred method of communication.
This year, Belfast City Council introduced a dedicated sign language service for deaf residents and visitors.
The 12-month pilot scheme allows deaf people to independently communicate with hearing people via a British Sign Language interpreter in real time with the aid of a video relay system.