Deaf Awareness Week 2021 is almost upon us, and we’re hoping that more organisations than ever will get on board to support the initiative this year.
This year’s campaign runs between 3 and 9 May. It aims to raise awareness of Deaf issues and improve access to education, health, social care and employment for Deaf people.
It will also highlight the importance of embracing and recognising language and culture and improving the quality of services for the Deaf community.
Throughout the week, hundreds of events will take place across the UK. Read on for a few ideas on how your business can get involved.
What is Deaf Awareness Week?
Deaf Awareness Week is a national event that aims to raise awareness of the Deafness and hearing loss faced by one in six people in the UK and the importance of inclusion and accessibility.
More than 10 million people in the UK have hearing loss, and by 2035, it’s estimated that this will increase to 15.6 million people.
The theme of Deaf Awareness Week 2021 is ‘Coming through it together’.
As the UK continues to live with the coronavirus pandemic, this year’s event aims to raise awareness of Deaf issues while focusing on positivity and togetherness as we gradually emerge from lockdown.
Why is Deaf Awareness Week important?
Deaf Awareness Week aims to raise awareness and challenge perceptions of hearing loss and Deafness in the UK. It also promotes the positive aspects of Deafness and campaigns for better accessibility and social inclusion.
Everyone can get involved in Deaf Awareness Week, including individuals and organisations who work, live or interact with Deaf or Hard of Hearing people.
It helps to give people a better understanding of the impact of language barriers on deaf people and promotes the importance of British Sign Language and lip-reading.
Most importantly, it’s about understanding and helping Deaf people to ensure they feel involved, engaged and supported, and are not disadvantaged in everyday situations that hearing people can take for granted.
Every year, Deaf Awareness Week is supported nationally by more than 100 charities and organisations that work with Deaf people. It is backed by thousands more people and businesses across the UK.
To help your business get involved and provide better support to Deaf people – whether they are employees, customers or other stakeholders – here are a few ideas of the things your organisation can do to support Deaf Awareness Week 2021.
What can I do to support Deaf Awareness Week?
The following ideas are designed to raise awareness of Deaf issues and help your business or organisation play an active role in supporting and including Deaf people in whatever you do:
Hold a Deaf Awareness Week event
The best way to show your organisation’s support for Deaf Awareness Week 2021 is to hold an event.
It can be something relaxed and informal like a coffee morning or cake bake to raise awareness. Or it may be something more structured like a workshop or seminar where you can talk about the issues affecting Deaf people in your workplace.
By being Deaf Aware, you ensure Deaf colleagues interact equally within the workplace. You can also talk about what you’re doing via your marketing and social media channels to help raise awareness of the campaign’s aims.
Deaf awareness training
Deaf Awareness Week provides the perfect backdrop to talk about Deaf issues with your staff and introduce deaf awareness training. It can give your team the confidence and skills they need to communicate with Deaf or Hard of Hearing colleagues and customers.
Employees who receive deaf awareness training can often deliver improved customer service, better understand the barriers faced by Deaf people, and feel more confident about communicating with Deaf colleagues and customers.
It also helps them work more effectively with colleagues who are Deaf or have hearing loss.
Appoint ‘inclusion champions’
Creating a team of staff ‘inclusion champions’ can be an effective way of enhancing engagement with your Deaf employees and developing a workplace culture that values diversity, equality and inclusion.
Inclusion champions can be tasked with promoting an inclusive environment to their colleagues, increasing the visibility of Deaf employees in the workplace to attract and retain the best talent, and developing leaders to drive your diversity and inclusion strategy.
While Deaf employees might be best placed to take on this role, anyone with an awareness of inclusion, diversity and disability issues can help to promote a more inclusive and diverse culture within your workplace.
Sign up to the Disability Confident scheme
Disability Confident is a Government scheme designed to help businesses attract, recruit and retain disabled people. It replaced the previous Two Ticks scheme.
The scheme helps employers think about making their workplace more accessible. It is an effective way of demonstrating to staff and customers that you’re committed to creating an accessible workplace.
It’s also a good way of encouraging people to talk openly about Deaf issues and what your organisation can do about them.
Join the #WeSupportDeafAwareness campaign
#WeSupportDeafAwareness has been established to help organisations better understand how to engage with the Deaf community.
Sign Solutions is partnering with its founder, Simon Houghton, to ensure that organisations across the UK take action to ensure Deaf customers and employees have equal experiences to those of hearing people.
The COVID pandemic has made lip-reading increasingly difficult and created a huge communication barrier for Deaf people. #WeSupportDeafAwareness aims to educate employers and organisations in recognising these barriers and make Deaf customers, clients, patients and employees feel at ease.
The campaign also provides training and visual materials to show your Deaf visitors that you support Deaf Awareness.
Review your technology
You can instantly improve the environment for employees and customers by offering hearing loop systems or instant video relay services, enabling Deaf people to communicate instantly with hearing people.
Other assistive products and technology can make your workplace safer and more accessible for Deaf people, including flashing fire alarms, amplified phones and alerters.
This doesn’t have to be a big expense. Many common workplace software applications and devices have in-built features that enhance accessibility for Deaf people, so make sure you know what technology you are using and that it is configured properly for your Deaf users.
The Government’s Access to Work scheme also financially supports reasonable adjustments in the workplace.