On 28th November, 1893 at the Abbey, Carlisle it was agreed to form Carlisle Diocesan Association for the Deaf covering the old counties of Cumberland and Lancashire (Furness area).
The Mission’s objects were to provide spiritual instruction, to keep a register of conditions and circumstances, to visit the sick and offer help as required, to assist deaf and dumb children to be admitted to special schools, to educate adults and help them find work, and to provide them with suitable recreation. (the word “dumb” is now not used as it is considered insulting)
Much of the spiritual and recreational life of deaf people focused on the local deaf club. Carlisle was the first to provide rented facilities before acquiring its headquarters at 3 Compton Street, Carlisle in 1923. Barrow followed in the 1930’s, Whitehaven in the 1970’s and Kendal in the 1980’s.
In the decades following the Second World War, deaf people increasingly became aware of the opportunities available to hearing people. Able young, deaf people wanted to attend college, deaf adults wanted greater opportunities at work and hearing people were becoming more interested in deafness.
By this time deaf people were taking responsibility for the running of the organisation which was one of the first in the UK to appoint deaf people to its Management Committee. In 1961, Cumbria Association of the Deaf adopted a formal constitution and was registered as a charity on 26th January 1967. The name changed to Cumbria Deaf Association in 1975 after a new county of Cumbria was formed in 1974 that includes the old county of Westmorland.
The status of Sign Language was much improved by linguists who were able to prove its standing as a language in its own right, and from the 1970’s onwards there was growing interest in deafness and in Sign Language. Many hearing people acquired Sign Language skills not only to communicate with deaf people but also to take up careers as Communication Support workers in colleges, and as Sign Language interpreters.
In 2007, Cumbria Deaf Association changed its working name to Cumbria-DeafVision to reflect its growing role and expanded geographical area.
In May 2014 Cumbria-DeafVision moved from its headquarters at Compton St to the ground floor of the Civic Centre. It was hoped this would provide an accessible and central location from which to deliver the services, help, support and advice.
Storm Desmond in December 2015 had a catastrophic effect on CDA. Flood water rose to a level of over 7 feet at our accommodation in Carlisle and all equipment and documents in the building was destroyed, leaving us homeless. Our Kendal Centre was also badly flooded. The ground floor was fully submerged causing substantial damage to the foundations and fabric of the building and making it uninhabitable.
In 2016 the long road to recovery has taken place. The Lake District National Park Authority and Caritas Care kindly offered us temporary office space in their Kendal and Carlisle buildings in the aftermath of the floods. In February 2016 we took up residence in our new office suite at Harraby Green Business Park in Carlisle. Work has been ongoing all year to repair the Kendal Centre and we expect to be able to move back in before 2016 ends. At the same time our Barrow Centre has also undergone a refurbishment programme.