Creating an inclusive workplace isn’t just the right thing to do, it also makes good business sense.
Encouraging an organisational culture that is accepting of everyone, where everyone feels valued and able to contribute, is a fundamental part of good business management.
Legislation that covers age, gender, race, religion, disability and sexual orientation, among other things, sets the minimum standard at which firms must operate.
However, to fully reap the benefits of an inclusive workplace, organisations must go beyond this compliance threshold and embrace the principles that will lead to a happy, harmonious, and highly engaged workforce, representing the broadest cross-section of society.
At its core, inclusion is all about creating the opportunity for all employees to thrive, succeed and reach their full potential.
Although employers have made significant progress on this front in recent years, there is still more to be done.
There are around 11 million people with hearing loss in the UK, ranging from Hard of Hearing to profoundly Deaf. Many have skills, aptitudes, expertise and experience that would make them an asset to any business.
However, the employment rate for Deaf people lags significantly behind the employment rate for people who aren’t disabled. Why is that?
Here, we take a closer look at the issues and how Deaf awareness training can help you create a more inclusive workplace.
The benefits of an inclusive workplace
Many benefits come from creating an inclusive workplace culture. Because a diverse workforce comprises people with unique and individual characteristics and backgrounds, they are more likely to have a variety of different skills and experiences.
As a result, they will bring a range of different perspectives to the table, which can lead to increased creativity and innovation and, ultimately, better problem solving and decision making.
An inclusive workplace also leads to better staff engagement. Included and valued employees feel more engaged, which leads to more loyal, hardworking and creative staff who take responsibility for their performance to drive the organisation forward.
Having an inclusive workplace can also help create a more favourable impression of your organisation and make it easier for many different people to relate to your brand, whether that’s staff, customers, service users or potential employees.
This will open doors to new markets, customers and opportunities.
The importance of Deaf awareness training
Around one in five adults in the UK is Deaf or has some level of hearing loss, so the chances are you’ll have Hard of Hearing employees in your workforce.
They all face different communication challenges, so there’s no one-size-fits-all solution.
As an employer, having a conversation about what you can do to make communication more accessible is an important starting point.
However, if you are looking to create a truly accessible and inclusive workplace that doesn’t discriminate against your Deaf and Hard of Hearing employees, Deaf awareness training is essential.
Deaf awareness training will make your team more aware of the different types of Deafness, the communication barriers, and how they can develop and improve their communication skills.
As an organisation, it will help you demonstrate increased knowledge and understanding of communicating effectively with Deaf and Hard of Hearing people.
It will increase your team’s understanding of the issues to provide a better working environment for your Deaf employees. This can enhance staff morale, loyalty and retention, and help improve your organisation’s productivity, efficiency, or customer service.
It will also help you provide a more accessible service to your Deaf and Hard of Hearing customers, visitors or service users.
Making reasonable adjustments for Deaf employees
To support employees with additional communications needs, you may be required to make reasonable adjustments in your workplace to help your Deaf employees perform their day-to-day roles to the best of their ability.
The adjustments you need to make will depend upon the individual employee’s level of hearing loss. Some simple, cost-effective adjustments can be implemented at short notice.
In contrast, others may require purchasing specialist technology, services or equipment, such as textphones, captioning software, hearing loops or sign language interpretation.
You should be able to apply for funding through the Government’s Access to Work scheme to cover the cost of any reasonable adjustments you need to make.
You can also read our handy online guide about ‘How to be inclusive of your Deaf colleagues whilst adjusting to hybrid working.
Where can I get Deaf awareness training?
Sign Solutions offers online and in-person Deaf awareness training programmes that can be tailored to suit your organisation’s needs.
The training is delivered by qualified and experienced Deaf tutors, supported by a British Sign Language interpreter.
Training can take place at your premises, at our head office in Birmingham, or remotely via a video platform of your choice. Everyone who completes a course will receive a certificate of attendance.
To find out more, and for expert advice on which type of Deaf awareness training will meet your needs, give us a call on 0843 178 0773, email firstname.lastname@example.org or contact us via a BSL video interpreter.