Is your organisation ‘Deaf Aware’?
Hearing loss is more common than you think. Current estimates suggest there are over 11 million people with some form of hearing loss and over 150,000 profoundly deaf people who use sign language.
Why is Deaf Awareness important?
Deaf awareness is important to you, your customers and your staff. Did you know 70% of customers with hearing loss do not re-visit businesses that are not deaf aware or that over 56% of staff with hearing loss suffer some form of discrimination? As many as 1 in 4 deaf employees quit their jobs due to lack of support. So, bad experiences mean you could lose valuable staff and customers.
By training staff to be deaf aware, you can avoid costly recruitment costs and widen your customer base at the same time.
Deaf people who use sign language face the most barriers in society. Part of the issue is a communication barrier – having limited access because a certain level of English is used (and expected) which is in itself, inaccessible. Other factors such as attitudinal, cultural, technological barriers can affect the accessibility of your organisation.
So how can you improve your communication and make your business more accessible generally? Check out our quick tips to improve communication with Deaf and Hard of Hearing people:
- Make sure you offer a number of different ways for people to contact you e.g. online booking appointments system, email booking/confirmation system. You might include a text messaging service.
- Have a deaf awareness session. Knowledge is power and can empower staff to feel more confident around those that communicate differently.
- If a BSL interpreter is preferred, arrange for a qualified interpreter to attend the next meeting.
- Ensure you have a system in place for booking an interpreter and that staff know the booking process.
- Are there visual alerts in waiting areas? Alternatively, make sure staff meet the customer in person and use the relevant communication tactics to make that customer feel welcome and understood.
- Never say ‘it doesn’t matter’ if the person did not understand you the first or second time. Re-phrase information or use visuals to convey your message.
Deaf Awareness training can enhance your customer offer and is a great way to support your staff to make deaf customers feel welcome.