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For 177 years, the Royal Association for Deaf people (RAD) has worked to ensure that Deaf people have access to services in British Sign Language (BSL). From supporting children and families to helping Deaf people find work, to befriending older people; we are here to make sure the people who use our services get the support they want, when they need it and that it is accessible to them.

One of our key ambitions is to support mainstream providers to be accessible to Deaf people and we achieve this by providing a number of services including Deaf Awareness Training.

What is Deafness?

Many words and expressions have been used over the used the years to describe Deafness but most have no place in modern society, for example, ‘deaf and dumb’ and ‘hearing impaired’.

To understand the different types of deafness, it’s helpful to know about the various classifications.

The word ‘deaf’ is an umbrella term used to describe people with all degrees of deafness.

For profoundly Deaf people in the UK, British Sign Language (BSL) is usually their first or preferred language.  The capital ‘D’ is not a typing error – it is used to denote the pride that people have in their deafness.   BSL users belong to a Deaf community that is very proud of its language, heritage and culture.  Deaf people consider themselves a linguistic minority and not disabled; to the Deaf community, deafness is not a problem that needs to be fixed.

“All deaf people, regardless of whether they are proud members of a culturally rich community or an older person who has lost hearing with age, experience the same barriers when it comes to accessing communication”

The third term is something many people may not know – deafened. This is used to describe people who become severely or profoundly deaf after learning to speak and often happens as a result of illness or an accident. Becoming deafened in adult life is a life-changing event with far-reaching consequences, not only for the deafened person, but also for their friends and family.

The final term covered here is, Deafblind.  Deafblindness is, as the name would suggest, a combination of sight and hearing loss.

Most Deafblind people have some residual hearing or sight but all will experience barriers in terms of access to communication and services.

All deaf people, regardless of whether they are proud members of a culturally rich community or an older person who has lost hearing with age, experience the same barriers when it comes to accessing communication.  Unless you see a hearing aid or until a Deaf person raises their hands to speak, Deafness can be invisible. If you are deaf everyday activities can be a real challenge; getting services you want or need sometimes feels impossible.

What is Deaf Awareness Training?

‘It was an incredible opportunity for our teams to become more Deaf-aware and we very much felt that this was the start of an amazing journey for our organisation.’

Care Quality Commission, East of England

Informative, interesting and fun; our courses cover:  Terminology, Definitions of Deafness, British Sign Language, Communication and Working with Interpreters.

All of our trainers are Deaf themselves and use BSL – meaning they are able to include personal and lived experiences of the different barriers Deaf people encounter in their daily lives.

Since 2017 we have delivered over 75 Deaf Awareness Training sessions across a variety of sectors and domains, across the UK, including HMRC, UK Power Networks and Unison – all of them have one thing in common, wanting to make their services and staff accessible to the Deaf community.

Interested in learning more? Email: communitydevelopment@royaldeaf.org.uk

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