What ways are companies becoming more deaf aware? Arguably, if we look at findings in the UK a survey revealed that disabled people had to apply for 60% more jobs before finding one, and only half of them reach the interview portion, according to The Independent. These findings reflect a true image of the lack of awareness companies have as they may often prejudge the abilities of d/Deaf people and may not hire them. Here at Lingoing we aim to rid companies of these ideas and try and break down the barriers of communication that perhaps make such companies perceive d/Deaf people as less able than they truly are. Lingoing does it’s part to try and enlighten companies or individuals, to become more deaf aware. Through Fateha and Ovais brilliant deaf awareness presentations, the reception team in Aldgate Tower were able to undergo a crash course in basic Signs and finger spelling that would come in handy for any deaf clients on their way up to us.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Anne Sandfort one of the receptionists at the Aldgate Tower – Lingoing’s current home. I often see Anne on my weekly trips to the Lingoing office as she registers me to enter into the building and she always has a warm and welcoming aura to her. Through the series of questions I asked her, this same warm aura shines through.
What signs did you learn and how have you practiced them?
She laughs as she states Oh you are really testing me now , we learned ‘What is your name?’ ‘Thank you’ ‘Have a good day.’ the alphabet ‘Floor’ ‘Lift’ Doors’ all the basic signs we would need to help a hearing impaired person get to Lingoing’s floor. I was able to practice on quite a few occasions, with Paull, Zena and Asim. I have to say my most delightful experience was with Asim (One of Uber partners mentioned in a previous post) . There are so many hearing impaired visitors that have come and I really want to do more to help them feel comfortable.
We also briefly discussed the ways in which Ovais and Fateha taught the team some signs with their presentations to which she states I was really impressed with Ovais and Fateha’s presentation; it was really thorough, to the point and exactly what we (her team) needed and it was delivered BY a deaf person and although there was an interpreter we knew to focus our complete attention on the person signing and it taught us hoe to really engage with a deaf person. I even shed a tear as it made me think of simple tasks… like tax are really hard to
She gleefully recalls the encounter she had with Asim the first time she signed to him.
My favourite experience so far is definitely with Asim. I remember signing to Asim and feeling a sense of acceptance, the short phrases that I used were liberating as there were less barriers to communication. I signed simple signs like ‘Lingoing’ ‘Floor 6’ and his face – she acts out his expression – literally lit up and he was really happy! The signs I have learned have been helpful so far and I have interacted successfully with other people coming to see Lingoing.
How has sign language enriched your life so far?
Sign Language is something that is close to home as my mother taught at a hearing impaired school in Trinidad in American Sign Language. It was an amazing experience learning some BSL phrases because it is brilliant to take back to my company and highlight how we can also do more to help hearing impaired people.
Was it difficult to learn?
No it wasn’t difficult at all! It is a very direct language so you miss out all the pronouns which makes it straight to point. We also continue to discuss the training session she had with Ovais and she recalls how she …shed a tear, because I didn’t realise how hard simple things like paying tax can be very difficult.
Have you become more deaf aware from this experience?
I have definitely become more aware to the issues deaf people face! Even in Trinidad I saw basic challenges that hearing impaired people face and it is very interesting that coming to a first world country like the UK it is quite shocking that they face the same problems. Even now though they say that 55% of spoken language is body language so we can still figure out what hearing impaired people are saying through their expressions etc. I think becoming deaf aware is all about equality and I remember asking my husband who runs hotels in London, “How many deaf people work for you? to which he replied “none” and I said “That’s the point! That is what it is all about!”. So I think it is really important that we all become more deaf aware.
Anne alongside her colleagues have taken a step in the right direction in becoming more d/Deaf aware. This is the type of thing that encourages Lingoing to keep doing what we do best – breaking down barriers of communication! The efforts shown both by Lingoing and the reception team should be commended because although these efforts to sign simple words and phrases may seem small, they are a huge step towards companies becoming more d/Deaf aware and inclusive of all hearing-impaired individuals.