Press Release provided by HearFirst
Salix Homes has proved that Deaf and disability awareness is at the top of its agenda after residents praised the organisation for training its staff in British Sign Language (BSL).
As five members of staff celebrated passing their BSL Level 2 exams last week, the Salford-based Arms Length Management Organisation (ALMO) has been providing BSL training for its front line staff since 2008.
The aim of the course, which was delivered by HearFirst, is to improve communication between staff and its customers who are deaf, deafened, deafblind or hard of hearing.
Residents living at Longbow Court in Broughton have seen at first hand, the benefits that the training has provided as their Neighbourhood Officer has been teaching them sign language so that they can talk to their Deaf friend.
Joanne Slater, 35 used her sign language skills to communicate to Marina Hoyles, 76 after realising that she was Deaf. Other residents living at the complex saw Joanne and Marina signing together and asked if she would teach them some signs too.
Marina, who has lived at the sheltered scheme for over a year, feels more included and is delighted that other residents have shown an interest and willingness to learn sign language.
Joanne first started learning sign language after attending an introduction to BSL and deaf awareness course in 2009 and is one of the five members of staff who have gained their Signature Level 2 qualification in BSL. She now intends to continue her professional development by studying for BSL Level 3.
Joanne said: “I think it is really important that all of our customers can access our services, the sign language training is a great idea, particularly for our front line members of staff.
“The organisation uses many different channels to communicate with its customers, as we believe that all tenants should feel fully included in the services we provide. I enjoy meeting and working with customers who are Deaf and it has been a privilege to learn about the Deaf community and their culture.”
Salix Customer Access Supervisor, Stephen Butterworth, said: “Before the training, I struggled to communicate with Deaf people. I was embarrassed and didn’t know what to do. I was completely unaware of the Deaf Community and what it means to be Deaf. Now I’ve completed my Level 2 BSL I feel much more at one with our Deaf customers.”
Sarah Davies, Neighbourhood Officer for Broughton, commented: “Before the training, we held a conference for customers. Some Deaf customers attended and whilst we did have a BSL interpreter there, we (Salix staff) were unable to interact with the Deaf customers directly. They told us they were disappointed and in response to that feedback Salix Homes arranged Deaf Awareness and BSL training.
“Achieving this qualification has given me a confidence boost and means I can provide much better customer care.”
Julie Ryder, Director and Founder of HearFirst, said: “Salix Homes has continually recognised the importance of Deaf and disability awareness training for its staff but more importantly, the benefits that this provides for their tenants.
“The staff have worked hard to achieve this qualification and have shown their commitment to supporting Deaf BSL users. Our aim at HearFirst has always been to deliver training that will result in real changes being made for real people. This is a text book example of how that can happen.”
HearFirst initially delivered a one day introduction course to BSL for 24 members of staff and have since provided Level 1 and Level 2 programmes. Earlier this year, the company also delivered a half day BSL training course for residents which was very well received.
Other members of staff who have successfully passed their Level 2 BSL exams include Patience Affoh (Organisational Development Officer) and Lisa Blakeley (Project Officer). Gina Dalton, Marketing & Communications Officer passed her Level 1 BSL exam.