Deaf Awareness Week 1st to 7th May

    Deaf Awareness Week 1st to 7th May

    May is on the way and with it we have an opportunity to join in the national event which raises awareness about the deaf community in the UK.

    Deaf Awareness Week runs from the 1st to the 7th May with its purpose to foster a better understanding of the challenges and experiences of deaf people at home, at work and in the community. The event will help to break down barriers and encourage better communication between deaf and hearing people, with a further purpose of promoting the inclusion of deaf people in society and highlight the importance of accessibility in the workplace and the community.

    12 million people in the UK are deaf or have some hearing impairment and that adds up to around one in six people. There are many different types of deafness, including congenital deafness from birth and deafness caused by illness or injury, and the condition can severely impact on people’s ability to find information or support; and accessing services in housing and health can be difficult, as can competing for career opportunities on a level footing with hearing candidates.

    In the home deaf people need and deserve to have practical aids and packages of support that enable them to live with sometimes complex needs, including mental health issues related to their impairment. Deaf people want the opportunity to live independent lifestyles of their choosing, which may include shared housing or self contained flats which make life easier and more enjoyable. Supported living homes often need to be adapted to meet specific sensory and physical needs.

    Practical enhancements such as extension door bells with a flashing light, and now Wi-Fi doorbells which send a notification to your mobile can all help at home, while in the workplace and in society we can all improve the lot of our deaf colleagues and friends. By being empathetic, keen to help and to learn ourselves we can all help to make deaf people feel more included.

    The obvious points in conversation around always facing the person, speaking slowly and repeating and rephrasing can help our deaf colleagues to lip read, while employers and department heads can offer sign language classes. British Sign Language is the most widely used language in the UK and has been recognised as an official language since 2003; and courses and learning materials can be accessed from British Sign at: British Sign Language – Online resources, games, & course. (

    And employers can make the workplace more accessible to deaf workers by providing visual alarms, hearing loops or captioning services, while new technology should always accommodate the deaf by ensuring video conferencing software with captioning capabilities or messaging apps.

    In work or social situations we can help deaf people to communicate better by taking care over seating plans, a horse-shoe arrangement is better so that everyone can see each other, and it’s also helpful to make sure there is not too much background noise.

    Deaf Awareness Week is a chance for us to learn, to help and to make sure all our deaf colleagues and friends always feel included.

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