I already know your first thought when you read the heading…
“I don’t have anyone deaf in my team?”
Well, what if I told you that 1 in 12 people in the workforce are either deaf or have a hearing loss.
In this article we will explore 5 ways to better engage with deaf employees within managed services.
We will start by helping you to identify your team members who are deaf or have a hearing loss, and then talk about the opportunity to address the current skills shortage, creating accessible communications, foster cohesive teamwork and put adjustments in place through the Governments Access to Work scheme.
Deafness is a hidden disability, so often the only way to identify someone is deaf is by either noticing that they are wearing a hearing aid or using sign language.
2 million people in the UK wear hearing aids, and 6.7 million could benefit from wearing them.
54% of employees with a hearing loss are reluctant to tell their employer, which makes the situation even more challenging.
We will now share five ways to better engage with deaf employees in your business.
PS: Yes, you definitely do!
But who are they?
Well, this is your first step, so let’s see!
A good place to start is to carry out a survey for your teams. This can be done by creating employee surveys and/or having supervisions/1:1’s to gather information and to get to know your staff.
Some questions you could ask:
How can we make your working life at YOUR COMPANY NAME the best it can be?
Is there anything we can do/put in place to help you at work?
You are not explicitly asking if your colleague has a disability, simply finding out how you can make their working life more accessible.
The next step is to start looking at the different touchpoints in the employee journey/s and building in similar questions.
This will help you capture this information throughout the employee experience and allow your team to talk openly with you at multiple points.
There is so much untapped talent in the deaf community and there are so large numbers of deaf people at University studying computing, networking, security and cyber security.
We know this, as another part of our business is in providing deaf students with Communication Professionals so that they can access the curriculum in their further education.
By employing deaf people, you are embracing a more diverse workforce. Deaf people see the world differently and use their unique perspectives to problem solve – bringing great value to your business.
If you want to hire more deaf talent into your business, you can do the following:
Clear communication is so vital in today’s working world, as businesses are working with diverse workforces and customer groups.
Especially within managed services, where high levels of cultural awareness is necessary.
British Sign Language (BSL) is the first or preferred language used by 150,000 deaf people in the UK.
BSL has a different grammatical structure to English, here is an example:
So, if you now imagine taking the BSL grammatical structure and reading large amounts of text, I am sure you will agree that this would be challenging.
We would always advise that businesses use Plain English.
By using headings, bullet points and keeping sentences short, you are making content much easier to digest.
This benefits everyone, creating accessible communications for many colleagues, not just deaf people.
To create an effective team, it really helps if colleagues understand each other’s needs.
This is where Deaf Awareness Training comes in.
The biggest barrier that deaf people face is access to communication.
Imagine turning up on site and colleagues are enjoying a bit of workplace banter, and not having any idea what they are talking about.
This is the experience that deaf people face every day.
Deaf Awareness Training is the perfect solution to give your teams confidence in communicating with deaf colleagues and customers.
There can be a concern about how deaf employees will access the working environment and what about the extra costs?
Well, there is a Government scheme called Access to Work (AtW), that funds any necessary adjustments in the workplace to make it accessible for disabled employees.
It can fund:
It will also fund Deaf Awareness Training for the team – so that colleagues can gain a clear understanding of how to work alongside and communicate with a deaf person. This really helps in creating an inclusive workplace.
The team at Mott Macdonald Bentley were made aware of terptree through Access to Work, to raise awareness of the deaf employees needs in the workplace. There was a need for Deaf Awareness Training, to create a cohesive team.
Deaf team member hadn’t come to terms with his deafness and was finding communication with colleagues challenging.
Used experience to analyse the situation then find a solution through awareness and internal education with the involvement of the deaf team member.
Hearing colleagues taught how to communicate effectively and deaf team members finally felt understood – transforming how he experienced life, work and colleagues.
The most incredible result was that terptree had helped transform a guy who hated life, his work, his colleagues; into someone who was now suggesting he spent his lunch breaks teaching his colleagues BSL. It was a truly amazing transformation! It had such an impact on him because he now felt included and cared about.Jenny Winton, HR Advisor, Mott Macdonald