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Housing group staff reap benefits of deaf awareness training

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Housing group staff reap benefits of deaf awareness training


Published by HearFirst for HearFirst in Housing and also in Communities, Education

Cathy Barton, Customer Services Officer at Progress Housing Group signing to one of their Deaf tenants Cathy Barton, Customer Services Officer at Progress Housing Group signing to one of their Deaf tenants

Staff from a Lancashire-based housing group are reaping the benefits of deaf and disability awareness training as they are now able to communicate through signing to their Deaf tenants.

28 members of staff from Progress Housing Group attended two, one-day in-house training courses on British Sign Language (BSL).

The course, which was delivered by award winning workplace training and consultancy company HearFirst, aimed to help staff understand what deafness means and gave them new skills to communicate with Deaf tenants more effectively.

The course was so successful that one front-line member of staff is already using sign language to communicate with the organisation’s Deaf tenants. 

Customer Services Officer, Cathy Barton is based at the organisation’s head office working on reception to handle tenant enquiries and answering the telephone.

Cathy, who has worked at Progress Housing Group since it was established in 1994, said that Deaf tenants are pleased that members of staff can use basic signing to communicate key messages and feels that the Group is fully embracing equality and diversity.

She said: “The course gave us an insight into Deaf culture and taught us basic signs and how to ask for help.  We don’t use it that regularly as we only have a small number of tenants who are Deaf but it gave us enough information to be able to provide an effective service to our tenants.

“We also learned how to use signs for reporting repairs, dealing with rent accounts and how to complete housing application forms.  Our Deaf tenants have found this really useful and it has not only provided staff with more awareness but it also allows us to provide a good service to all tenants.

“The training was enjoyable and both tutors, who were also deaf, were really good and explained everything in great detail.”

Lorraine Bretherton, Training, Health and Safety Manager for Progress Housing Group, said: “HearFirst have provided us with disability awareness training for a number of years and we have always had really positive feedback from those who attended the courses.  We had no hesitation in using HearFirst to deliver the training."

Julie Ryder, Director and Founder of HearFirst, said: “Our goal with all HearFirst courses is to provide value for money, thought provoking, fun and interesting training that motivates and inspires people to make real changes for their customers.

“The BSL course allows delegates to explore the full range of deafness and the communication methods that are used. It also helps them to gain confidence and skills to improve communication with deaf and hard of hearing people as we have learned from Cathy.  It’s lovely to hear how the training has brought the Equality and Diversity Policies to life for staff at Progress Housing Group and their tenants too.”

For more information on equality and diversity and disability awareness training in the workplace, please contact Julie Ryder at HearFirst on 01706 872816 or visit


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