We all surely remember the first time we thought of turning – out of interest, despair, or boredom – to baking when the pandemic shut the country down.

Whether you struggled with sourdough, familiarized yourself with cookies, or tried to reinvent banana bread, cooking and baking became a liferaft for many during the lockdown, as well as a safe way to connect with people even when you are apart.

And for this reason, Deaf Cookery – a Facebook community group that has flourished in recent months – has continued to grow even after the restrictions were lifted. The pandemic has presented many challenges to some communities, and as masks have become mandatory, people with hearing loss have lost a way to communicate: lip reading.

However, Deaf Cookery flourished as a social hub for members. Founded by Bernadette O’Connor of Co. Kerry, and co-managed by group administrator Lucy Dunn, Deaf Cookery has become a hub of activity for the deaf community.

With over 650 men and women involved across Ireland, the group collaborates on recipes, cooking demonstrations and ideas, sharing tips and tricks and updating with their creations, all through sign language. Irish.

Here, Bernadette explains what the band meant to her and the members.

What inspired you to create the cooking group?

I started this group with the aim of making simple and delicious recipes accessible to everyone through Irish Sign Language.

How it works?

Group members post videos and photos of their favorite dishes that they cook or bake at home. When posting videos, our members use Irish Sign Language to explain the cooking method and ingredients. Because this is a Facebook group and we are a tight-knit community, we can just ask questions and ask for tips and advice when breeding the dish at home in the comments section below the post. .

What kind of recipes do you cook together?

Anything sweet and savory – from soups, stir-fries and lasagna to breads, brownies and cupcakes. A member of the group recently posted an apple sponge recipe. It looked really delicious so I tried to reproduce the dish at home. It was delicious, I posted a photo of my attempt to the group.

How did your members find the group?

We invited people who we knew were part of the deaf community in Ireland. They then invited their friends over and word quickly spread throughout the group. The group has continued to grow since 2011!

How has it evolved during the pandemic?

Before the pandemic, the group had around 300 members. When Covid-19 struck, the group doubled in size. With the growing number of Covid cases, people have had to stay at home to protect themselves and their families. It was a very isolated time for many people. People started joining the group as a way to connect with other people who were also isolated at the time. It has given us all an outlet to safely socialize during Covid.

How social is the deaf community? How easy is it to find groups like these?

However, the Deaf community has many social groups and events, but they are mainly based in Dublin. Thus, it can be difficult for the majority of the deaf community across Ireland to attend. It’s good that we can use platforms [online] to stay up to date with what is happening in Ireland and also to connect directly with like-minded communities.

Many of us have probably taken for granted how easily we could add Zoom meetings and social hangouts into our lives, but for the hard of hearing, they don’t have to be so accessible. How does it feel to communicate via video calls, let alone run a cooking class?

Yes it was great at first but sometimes I have a bad internet connection which means it hangs a lot during calls which can get very frustrating. That’s why in our group we like to post photos with written instructions or videos using Irish Sign Language without interruption.

How was the pandemic for you, as a hearing impaired person, with mandatory masks?

The pandemic is incredibly difficult for the deaf community especially because masks are mandatory. Many of us rely on lip-reading and some people have refused to take off their masks when communicating with Deaf people.

Do you think there is more representation of deaf people on television or in the media?

I still think that is still not enough portrayal of Deaf people on television or in the media. We need more Deaf people or ISL interpreters.


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