Building society the West Brom organised a special taster course in signing to help give greater assistance to customers with hearing loss.
More than 30 colleagues attended the session in British Sign Language (BSL) which was run by Sandwell Deaf Community Association.
Almost one in six of the UK population has some kind of significant hearing loss*. A basic grasp of BSL can help alleviate some of the anxieties and frustrations that a deaf person often encounters on a daily basis.
The training course, organised by the West Brom's staff union, gave an introduction to key signs and words such as “Hello, can I help you?” and also dispelled certain myths, including the notion that all deaf people are excellent lip-readers.
Rachel White, Branch Consultant at the West Brom in Wednesbury, found the session very helpful. She said: “Four of our regular customers are deaf and having colleagues available who can sign would be invaluable to them. This taster gave us important basic skills and the confidence to start communicating through sign language.
“We strive to be friendly and welcoming at all times and this approach is an inclusive one for our communities. We are always looking at how we can improve our services and communications.”
Lisa Bowen, Sandwell Deaf Community Association’s Training and Information Officer, added: “We are proud to work with the West Brom to ensure customers with hearing loss have the best possible customer service.”
Sandwell Deaf Community Association delivers specialist accessible services for people with hearing loss, such as information, training, advocacy, volunteers and a youth service. It also works with Sandwell Council to provide welfare rights services.
The West Brom is the UK’s seventh largest building society with 37 branches across the Black Country, Birmingham, Shropshire and mid-Wales. Founded in 1849, the Society provides a broad range of financial products and services, notably savings, investments and residential mortgages.
(*source: Action on Hearing Loss)