About Us

The Leeds Society for Deaf and Blind People has existed since 1866. Throughout its long history, the single objective has been to respond to the expressed needs and aspirations of Deaf, hard of hearing, DeafBlind, Blind and partially sighted people. This has been achieved by the active participation of community members, involved at every level of the Society.

The success of The Society is without doubt due to the active pursuit of this policy. However, we recognise the value of the large number of people who have given and continue to give their time and talents in a voluntary capacity, and this valuable input, has been a significant factor in the progress of the Society.

There are few, if any, other voluntary societies which provide services for Deaf, Blind and DeafBlind people. The reputation of The Leeds Society for Deaf and Blind People is virtually without equal in this regard, and the benefit of our advice, opinion and experience is sought by people throughout the UK. The Society recognises that its long partnership since the 1950s with Leeds City Council Social Services has also been a significant factor in this success.

The Society continually strives to improve access for the Deaf, Blind and DeafBlind communities of Leeds.  This is achieved by listening to our members and service users and working with them to develop. By consultation and cooperation, we shall ensure that we enable each person to have the opportunity of choice, leading to achieving their personal potential and independent living.

Tracey Adams
Cleaning Assistant - Bar/Cafe Supervisor

I have worked for the Society for five years as Cleaning Assistant and Bar/Café Supervisor. I have also held the title of Facilities Coordinator. In addition to my paid roles, I have been volunteering for many years and am always happy to give up my time to support the Society with a variety of projects. I’m sure you will be able to work this out from the photograph, but my passions include tending to my allotment, which I am proud of!

Melissa Barker-Simpson
Accessibility Team Manager/British Sign Language Interpreter

My first role within the Society was Administrator of the Leeds Sign Language Interpreting Service, a position I held from 1999 to 2004. I left for a while and returned to the team in 2017. In 2021 I became Accessibility Manager, a role which has given me the opportunity to share my skills and knowledge, while learning and developing within a diverse and talented team.

I have been a registered qualified interpreter for eighteen years and am passionate about improving my practice and helping others to do the same. After training to become a professional supervisor with 360 Supervision, in June 2022 I successfully completed my Diploma in Supervision for Sign Language Interpreters and Allied Professionals.

In my spare time I enjoy writing and began self-publishing in 2018. A few of my books are science fiction and fantasy related, genres I particularly love. If you put those together that’s even better – I might be slightly obsessed with all things Marvel!

Richard Jackson
British Sign Language Interpreter

I started working with the Leeds Society for Deaf and Blind in 2009 following completion of my BA/Hons degree from the University of Wolverhampton. Initially joining the interpreting service as a trainee interpreter.

Following a period of further training, I then qualified as a fully qualified interpreter with a Post-Graduate Diploma from the University of Central Lancashire in 2013. I’ve worked for the interpreting service full time since 2009.

Zoe Major
Building, Facilities, Development & Contracts Manager

As a student on placement in 1988 I was absolutely bowled over by the scope of service the Society provided within Deaf and Blind communities in Leeds. Having been completely inspired and in awe of all the work done, I continued with voluntary work until I took my first full time job as a Social Welfare Officer in 1989.

Over the years, I have taken the opportunities to work in many roles in all areas of sensory loss. I want to make a real difference and bring positive change for the children, adults and families we support. I am passionate that people have choice and control over their lives, and that the individuals we support and their families are at the forefront of all that we do. I am incredibly lucky to be surrounded by people who work really hard and I continue to be amazed by the depth of their commitment and skills.

Outside of work I love to spend time with my family and friends. I am obsessed about everything connected with VW campervans. The sense of freedom that a VW evokes – playfulness, the great outdoors, living closer to nature, holidays with my adorable dog Rolfe, life out on a limb, I could go on....

Alison Miller
HR & Finance Manager

I have worked for the Society since 1994, when I started as Admin Assistant to Martin Dodgson who was then the Director. My role has changed many times over the years, since 2011 I have been the HR & Finance Manager.

I have progressive severe hearing loss which runs in my family. I have Level 2 BSL but I would benefit from more practice.

When I’m not working I love to spend time in my garden, in the kitchen cooking or with my family and friends.

British Sign Language Interpreter

Prior to working for the Society, I was a CSW in a range of settings: schools, colleges, nurseries and in workplaces. I enjoyed this role and gained a lot of knowledge and experience.

Whilst working as a CSW I completed my MA Interpreting BSL/English at the University of Leeds and got my all-important NRCPD yellow badge.

Since February 2017 I have worked here at the Leeds Society for Deaf and Blind People. I have been fortunate to interpret for many people in Leeds and the surrounding area.

Naomi Todd
British Sign Language Interpreter

I have worked as a communication support worker for 10 years supporting children and young people from ages 5-16 years old. In this time, I have interpreted a range of different topics in education settings from Maths, English and Science to performances, college visits and day trips. While in work I completed Signature Levels 1, 2, 3 and 6 in British Sign Language.

In January 2022, I completed Signature Level 6 NVQ diploma in Sign language Interpreting and decided to reduce my working days in order to develop my own freelancing business and widen my interpreting experience in the Deaf community.

I joined the Leeds interpreting team in February 2023. In this short amount of time I have thoroughly enjoyed being involved in the deaf community and meeting people from all walks of life.

William Towning
Communications Officer