Did you know that Deaf Sign Language users very often cannot read English very well? According to the British Deaf Association, there are over 87,000 Deaf people in the UK whose preferred language is British Sign Language and English being their second or even third language (https://bda.org.uk/help-resources/).
The structure of British Sign Language is not the same as English.
This means that for all the information that you carefully print out, upload to your website, email to clients and potential clients are literally “falling on Deaf ears”.
English is not accessible to most Deaf British Sign Language users, which means that many of these potential clients will never know what you have to offer.
Without the support of a hearing family member or friend (and by this, we are referring to their understanding of written English, not their ability to hear), the vast majority of written information is not reaching Deaf people.
This leaves Deaf British Sign Language users in a position of ignorance and possibly vulnerability, with a very real lack of choice and understanding over decisions affecting their lives, be it linked with finances, insurances, housing, education or any number of other services – yours will be one of them.
So how can this problem be overcome? How can you ensure that you are reaching out to British Sign Language users? How can you improve your compliance with Equalities legislation?
It is actually a lot simpler than you think.
You can provide information about what your organisation does in BSL (video) format. This is the only channel in which British Sign Language can be fully and comprehensively communicated. It cannot be written down – it is a visual language.
By doing this, you will be ensuring that everyone is “hearing” what you want them to know about your business.
Translating your organisational information into this visual format would reach out to a large community that you possibly did not know even existed. You will then be able to add this visual
communication to your website, for your documents, in your emails, on your social media platforms – think of how many other ways you spread information about your business in the written form - the list is endless.
This is how in many ways Deaf BSL users are missing out. They aren’t “hearing” your message!
Want to take this further and improve Deaf awareness in your workplace? Do you want to ensure your hard of hearing or profoundly deaf staff are safe and integrated in your business? Do you know the everyday barriers deaf people face and how to minimise them for improved relations, communication and productivity? Educating staff on a Deaf Awareness Training course and incorporating understanding in the work place would no doubt increase business achievements and success. Achieving this is not an expensive or timely process, also another misconception.
By being ahead of the game and embracing the changes required to connect with Deaf people in your target market and in the work place would undoubtedly increase your business reach – help them to help you provide your services and improve integration, communication and relations all the time and every time.