Inclusive Workplace & Deaf Awareness
This week’s national awareness week is one that I feel passionate about and one that involves me directly. Deaf Awareness Week celebrates the achievements of people with a hearing loss but also promotes greater understanding of the barriers and challenges that people who are deaf face in society. As people are starting to talk openly about their experiences, it made me think about my own journey.
I am Eve and I work as a Marketing Executive for nFocus. I was born with a profound hearing loss (...there are different categories but basically my loss is about as bad as it gets). Luckily for me living in Shropshire was a win as it was one of the best counties for deaf education and renowned for its excellent Sensory Inclusion Service (SIS).
It was a steep learning curve for my family as there are no other family members that have a hearing loss but with the support of excellent Teachers of the Deaf and audiology experts, I was fitted with a hearing aid at the age of 3 months.
Following a natural aural approach to acquiring language, I was encouraged to listen using my hearing aid. I went to a local primary and secondary school where pupils and staff were really supportive and actively involved in understanding what was needed in order for me to thrive socially and academically.
Fitting me with a hearing aid doesn’t mean that my deafness is ‘fixed’, I still rely heavily on lip reading so when you are not facing me, I will struggle to hear exactly what you say. My hearing aid amplifies everything and some environments are tricky for me to follow conversations so I have to bag the best place at a table in a restaurant where I can see people clearly.
Going to university was an opportunity for me to be more independent and I did what most students do, work hard and sleep a lot (well sort of!). What I found interesting was that I was now becoming an expert in explaining to people how they could do things a little differently in order for me to get the best out of being at university. I completed my degree and entered the world of work.
Fun fact… "According to 2020 figures, 11 million people in the UK are deaf or hard of hearing and this community are 12% more likely to be unemployed."
I am happy to say that at nFocus, we strive to put inclusion at the heart of everything we do. My colleagues understand that some adjustments need to be made for me to access work and be more effective. Just getting my attention before they start talking or facing me making sure that their mouth is clearly visible helps me follow the conversations.
The pandemic changed the working environment for many people. For me, it meant overcoming a new challenge. Mask wearing was not great as it meant that I couldn’t lip read. This needed solutions to be found to help lip reading and finding solutions to a problem is something that nFocus is good at.
We meet virtually over Microsoft Teams and my colleagues are great at adapting to me being in on the call, taking turns to speak, speaking in a normal volume and checking that I had understood what was said.
I am immensely proud to be working for nFocus as they genuinely care about their team and I love the fact that each team member brings unique characteristics to the business. I feel that people are at the core of what nFocus is about. Their approachability adds a personal touch to their professional relationships which makes working for them easy.
Being fully inclusive is about identifying people’s individuality and recognising their talents or strengths. It’s also about providing a supportive environment for people to grow professionally and being truly valued for who they are.
From personal experience, I still feel that being deaf aware is undeniably powerful to a deaf person’s life. I would encourage you to find out more about how best to communicate with people you work with who have a hearing loss or any disability and make any adjustments to the way in which you work to enable them to feel part of the workforce. All of these things are so important for our overall wellbeing and self-esteem. Small details that make a big difference in everyday life.
By educating ourselves, together we can take steps to be more inclusive and celebrate diversity. We can all do a bit more...
Please click on the links above for deaf awareness tips!