Tuesday, April 6, 2010

News: Entrepreneurs' drive to succeed in Rotherham


A driven business duo has launched a ground breaking new scheme to help the deaf learn to drive with help from the Rotherham Enterprise Project.

Creative business woman Sharon Turner, 52, of Chapeltown, and her business partner, Joe Devlin also 52, have helped change the lives of Rotherham's hearing impaired with their unique driving training resources for the deaf.

The pair, who are both British Sign Language (BSL) trained and know that some words cannot be directly translated into sign, realised the only resource available to student drivers was the highway code book, causing a real problem for the hearing impaired to fully understand and learn the theory and the rules of the road.

Sharon, who has thirty years driving instructing experience said: "In the end we started creating our own illustrations for our deaf learners to take out in the car and contacted the Driving Standards Agency (DSA) to highlight that there was a dilemma for deaf student drivers.

"After a lot of hard work, they gave us crown copyright to adapt the English on the test into BSL and get the proper questions used in DSA tests, so we could adapt the test for the hearing impaired."

Sharon and Joe were then inspired to set up "Level Ground", a social enterprise aimed at providing sign led driving lessons, a theory learning centre in Rotherham and illustrated books and DVDs to aid training, but needed help with their business vision.

Sharon said: "We realised there was a gap in the market so we formed a group at a learning suite in Rotherham's fire station which had computers so deaf individuals could come and take their theory there with facilities that accommodated them.

"But to do this we needed further funding and a real plan which is where Voluntary Action Rotherham (VAR) came in."

VAR offers free valuable advice to people with social enterprises and is part of Rotherham Enterprise which is part funded by European Regional Development Fund. The group provided Level Ground with an effective business plan to grow their concept and the right organisation contacts to seek funding.

Alan Murphy from Rotherham Enterprise said: "This is a fantastic social enterprise for drivers in the region and both Sharon and Joe have shown a desire to help the hearing impaired with their hard work and they are making a real difference.

"We are thrilled that we have been able to help them set up and create an outline of what they wanted to do and will continue to offer them the pivotal advice they need to take the next step with Level Ground."

For more information please contact Level Ground:
Tel: 07849322568
Email: sharonturnersom@live.co.uk

Rotherham Enterprise website

Images: brchamber.co.uk


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