When Samantha, who is deaf, joined the BBC Eastenders production team, some staff took part in deaf awareness and basic British Sign Language (BSL) training. But it recently became apparent that communication barriers meant Samantha felt excluded from conversations, both work-related and social, preventing her from being an inclusive team member. We were asked to provide Deaf Awareness Training to break down these barriers.
Finding solutions through training
During the training, staff were encouraged to think about communication barriers people with hearing loss encounter, as well as about potential solutions and ways to avoid excluding their deaf colleague. Through practical exercises and group work, it was shown how difficult it can be to communicate using only visual methods such as lipreading.
Hearing staff learned best practice and how to improve their confidence when approaching and communicating with their deaf co-worker. Other issues covered on the course included:
- information about different types of deafness
- explanation of equality and disability legislation
- communication tips when speaking to someone who is deaf or has a hearing loss
- products, equipment and technology available to support people who are deaf or have hearing loss
- the opportunity to ask questions.
A positive impact
Staff found it especially useful to receive their training from a deaf person, who was able to provide personal examples of the issues people with hearing loss face every day – and suggest simple and effective solutions to overcome these.
Carolyn Weinstein, Company Manager, BBC EastEnders, said: "The trainer was excellent and he gave us some valuable advice and examples and really got the message across."
Asked if the training had changed staff attitudes to deaf people, Carolyn responded: "It encouraged people to include their deaf colleague in conversations and to think about how to communicate with her and understand the isolation a deaf person can experience. I can now see people being friendlier, more inclusive and deaf aware. Samantha feels the training has had a positive effect and she's much happier as a consequence.”
To ensure the team remains proactive in promoting accessibility and compliant with equality legislation, all new staff in the department will be taught about deaf awareness.
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