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Geraldine O’Halloran: Why I got involved in Signalise Co-op

Geraldine O’Halloran is a Deaf Board Member with over 30 years experience in the Deaf and disabled people’s movement.

Nicky Evans • May 5, 2021 • 2 min read

Headshot of Geraldine O’Halloran

What drew me to Signalise Co-op was their message that Deaf people were equal partners with BSL interpreters. For me, as a Deaf person and a user of BSL interpreting, this was a powerful message as it highlighted the significant idea that Deaf people were not the passive users of these services — but valued members who can make positive contributions to the future development of communication services which are irrevocably valuable and important to us, our daily lives, and our future.

I have been involved as a Director of the Signalise Board for over one year now, meaning I am involved in all aspects of the Co-operative’s business; from advising on the new interpreting platform to being involved in designing and developing new services that we can bid for contracts for. What I bring to the Co-operative is as important, valued and irreplaceable as those of other members, irrespective of their qualifications and experiences. We are all equal partners, and we bring valued life experiences, knowledge, skills, and understanding of issues and challenges this type of work brings.

The Board of Directors have brief meetings once a week, to plan the week’s work, share what we are doing, or ask for advice or assistance with pieces of work that need to be completed. There are additional in-depth board meetings which occur once a month and four times a year we have full members meetings.

We are in a very different world to the one we knew a couple of years ago — we have an opportunity to start new things, to do things in a different way that includes developing confidence to get involved in a catalysing new ways of receiving and delivering interpreting services. We can decide not to accept second best services from profit making providers who, more often than not, do not meet our needs. I got involved because the Co-operative model provides the best answer to how interpreting services should be run — with Deaf members, for Deaf members in equal partnership with interpreters.

My hope for the future is that more Deaf people get involved and understand the Co-operative model and the value it can offer to the Deaf community. We, Deaf people, are the experts — we know what communication services we need. For me, this is an opportunity for the Deaf community members get involved, and feel they can also be a valued part of the Co-operative community.

You can support Signalise by becoming an investor member and investing in our Community Shares. Head over to our Ethex page to find out how:

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Edit: the offer has since ended - we raised £328,250!