The term ‘Deaf Gain’ is becoming more commonplace in society, but many people still don’t understand what it means.
What is Deaf Gain?
It’s a concept developed by H-Dirksen Bauman and Joseph Murray that aims to counter and challenge the idea that being Deaf is a ‘loss’ and instead encourage people to see Deafness as a strength.
Deaf Gain has become a valuable tool for empowering Deaf people, helping them to reframe their lived experience and gain a greater perspective on their identity.
The common perception of being Deaf or Hard of Hearing is seen as something negative, with the Deaf person therefore lacking something that most hearing people take for granted.
The idea behind Deaf Gain is to reframe the narrative and highlight the strengths of being Deaf, not just for the Deaf person but also for the hearing world around them.
Deaf people and those who’ve been affected by hearing loss from a young age have never had hearing to lose, but they have had everything to gain from being Deaf.
Deaf Gain encourages society to look at Deaf individuals and the Deaf community from a new, more positive perspective and to identify the benefits being Deaf can bring to the table.
How ‘Deaf Gain’ can benefit your business
When given the right opportunities and tools, Deaf employees can become invaluable to a business. Hearing loss does not mean a person is any less capable of doing a job than someone without a hearing loss.
Unfortunately, much prejudice still exists in society, and people can struggle to see beyond the perceived stigma surrounding deafness and hearing loss.
There are around 11 million people in the UK with some form of hearing loss, many of whom have skills, expertise and experience that make them an asset to any business.
Deaf Gain focuses on how Deaf people contribute to society and the workplace in a positive way.
Embracing the concept of Deaf Gain will not only bring a more diverse workforce to your business, but it will also open up more opportunities and bring unique experiences and ideas to the table.
Some of the benefits of hiring Deaf staff include:
Deaf people constantly have to overcome obstacles in everyday life, both personal and work-related. This has forced them to develop alternative ways to tackle challenges or assignments, adding a dynamic element to any business activity.
Deaf employees can use their life-experiences to benefit internal and external communication and cultures within a business. For example, being able to spot when a letter contains too much jargon, building signposting that isn’t clear and missing accessibility requirements, restricting access for customers. This unique and valuable perspective can raise a business from doing what’s required to being genuinely inclusive to staff and customers.
Deaf employees can influence staff and public perception about the ethos, culture and priorities of a business. For example, having a Deaf employee on front of house may attract more people with disabilities to use your business. It also reinforces perceptions of the business as valuing all people, being inclusive and promoting non-discriminatory practices.
For Deaf people, long-term unemployment, underemployment and discriminatory practices are a sober reality.
Finding and keeping employment, especially with companies that value their contribution and adapt to their needs, are worth their weight in gold.
As James Emmett, Disability Inclusion Expert at Understood, says: “The number one hidden benefit of disability inclusion is increased retention and decreased turnover”.
Communication in the workplace is crucial to any successful business. Finding ways to make sure everyone can communicate effectively can be an ongoing challenge. Working with Deaf employees, companies soon find that communication requirements change for everyone, not just the Deaf person.
Whether it’s using digital communication more frequently, so everyone is included, learning to speak clearly, or using facial expressions with more direct speech.
Everyone is learning and adapting to one another. This is a skill which will bring benefits internally and externally as business personnel learn to adapt to customers needs, rather than the other way around.
How can Sign Solutions help?
Encouraging an organisational culture that embraces Deaf Gain is a positive thing. It recognises the benefits that Deaf employees can bring to the business, which will help you lay the right foundations for future success.
You can make a start in creating a more diverse and inclusive work environment with Sign Solutions to support you, ensuring your recruitment, training, and employment processes are as accessible and inclusive as possible.
To find out more about our recruitment support services, give us a call on 0843 178 0773, email firstname.lastname@example.org or contact us via a BSL video interpreter.