For companies to be in line with the 2010 Equality Act, they need to ensure their services do not discriminate.
This means putting in place adequate provision for those with disabilities so they can access your service or product as easily as everyone else can.
If you are not putting in place measures to ensure your company is catering for deaf and hard of hearing people, then consider this: if you offer one deaf customer an excellent experience, you are opening your doors to an entire community. This leads to repeat custom and increased profits.
The key pain points by deaf people in your business needn’t be difficult to fix – Here is a list of what you can do to make your company deaf-friendly, some of which you can implement today.
Make Staff Deaf Aware.
By completing our online Deaf Awareness programme your staff will gain valuable insight into communicating with Deaf and hard of hearing people without taking them away from their workplace. When a deaf person feels comfortable using a service they can access they will come back again and again plus they will recommend you to their friends and family as deaf friendly.
Use Subtitles, and even Sign Language
Are videos an essential piece of your marketing jigsaw? Do you often post video on Facebook and Instagram, or do you make use of it on your website? If this is the case, make sure you add subtitles for hard of hearing people so they can gain from the added value provided by your video content and not feel alienated.
If you want to fly the flag for diversity, why not follow the example of Malteasers when they broadcast a whole advert in British Sign Language on Channel 4 following the Rio Paralympics in 2016. Not only will this provide accessibility to BSL users, it will provide another layer of interest and creativity for hearing people, opening their eyes to the vibrancy of deaf culture.
When Using Subtitles, Keep it Simple
When you apply subtitles to your video, keep the messaging simple and accessible. English is the second language for those brought up with sign language, so processing wordy chunks of text can be off-putting.
Speak Clearly and Make Eye Contact
During staff training, emphasise the importance of speaking clearly and facing customers who are deaf , even if they are wearing a hearing aid.
Implement Hearing Loops
Hearing loops, also known as T-loops or audio induction loops are a technology that assists those reliant on hearing aids to discern sounds more easily by limiting background noise. If your customers have to speak to your staff in a noisy environment, then installing this technology would make the interaction more comfortable and effective.
Invite a BSL Interpreter to Events
If you are planning to host a talk or a conference, you can hire somebody to interpret. Advertising that you are making provisions for Deaf people will encourage them to come along. Besides, having somebody use sign language as part of a mainstream event plays a small part in raising deaf awareness.
Train Staff in BSL
No-one is expecting your team members to develop fluency in sign language overnight, but even if your sales colleagues possess just a few phrases in addition to your other measures to promote accessibility, they will show a willingness to engage with people living different experiences, and that can only be a positive thing.
Adopt Video Relay Interpreting (VRI /VRS)
Consider using a video relay interpreting service if your company has a contact centre. This means that deaf customers can instantly access a BSL interpreter from your website, who will then speak to the customer service advisor.
For face-to-face customer service, such as if you are selling a car or a kitchen, you can make use of video remote interpreting using a tablet.
Put in Place BSL Access Points with Signcodes
Use Signcodes in store and on promotional materials. The customer simply scans the Signcode to access information in BSL. Important messages about a retail offer or product can help companies ensure that deaf people are getting the full picture without losing any of the all-important detail.
Through our Deaf Liaison network SigncodeUK will send out the message to Deaf communities throughout the country that you are Deaf Aware. Contact SigncodeUK today to get expert advice from our consultants on how to make your business accessible the deaf community.