Sheffield colleagues from Metro Bank are currently learning British Sign Language to help improve their understanding of what deaf and hard of hearing customers experience.
In the UK alone, there are over ten million people living with some form of hearing loss, whether mild or profound. Metro Bank prides itself on being a Community Bank and works hard to support all its local communities.
The Sheffield Metro Bank colleagues are learning from customer service representative Sarah Cotterill: “I am not BSL fluent, I just know a handful of signs but it is just something I am quite passionate about due to my mum being a special needs educator in a school. She always influenced me to use Makaton as much as possible and to learn it as a child to help me understand there are differently abled people all around you. Makaton is an assistive sign system used by children and adults with language difficulties to assist their speech, it is the signs taught by Mr Tumble on Cbeebies and in many primary schools across the country.
“I have been teaching a “Sign of the Day” in our morning meetings and ensuring we learn the signs related to any occasion or event we celebrate instore. We practise the BSL fingerspelling alphabet with each other quite a lot and whilst we are not in any way fluent, I think it is important to understand the experiences of the deaf and hard of hearing community and is a good way for our workplace to feel as inclusive as possible. We do have deaf customers and to be able to greet them and ask how they are in BSL feels the very least we can do to support them.”
The Royal College of Speech & Language Therapists highlighted that the rise in the use of face masks due to the Covid-19 pandemic makes it harder for people with hearing loss to communicate. Face coverings with a transparent panel over the mouth ensure that people can still lip-read through masks and these are the type of masks Metro Bank colleagues wear in store to help customers; as while lip-reading helps deaf people to understand what others are saying, even the best lip-readers still miss up to 40% of what has been said.
Metro Bank’s Sheffield store can be found at 58-64 Fargate, Sheffield, S1 2HE. The store is open Monday – Saturday 08:30am - 6pm. Sunday: 11am - 5pm.