Talk Direct Attend Deaf Awareness Course


Mark Skelton reports on Talk Direct's recent visit to the Doncaster Deaf Trust.

Recently Talk Direct continued its quest to be able to help customers with a disability, so that all customers are able to be helped throughout all our stores. As many of you will know, we have been championing the work our Gurus can do helping visually impaired people both in and out of our stores, with great success.

In the UK it is claimed than 1 in 25 people suffer from some type of visual impairment, so our work in the community, teaching people accessibility, has been very rewarding for all concerned. However it has been recently claimed that 1 in 6 people suffer from a loss of hearing, which to me is an amazingly high figure. Project iCare was launched due to me being registered blind, so we had a fair amount of knowledge of how we could help people suffering from sight loss, however no one within our company has any experience within the deaf community.


Doncaster Deaf Trust

With this in mind, 20 of our team including all of our store Gurus attended a deaf awareness course, so we had a better understanding of how we can improve and how we help our customers who suffer hearing loss. We attended this course at the Doncaster Deaf Trust, which is a college for children of all ages, who can attend on a daily basis, or can live there full time. Our trainer on the day was a lady called Natalie Pollard, who has been profoundly deaf since birth, ran the course with the help of an interpreter. Natalie presented by using British Sign Language, and the interpreter translated this to spoken word, which was an absolutely fantastic experience for all of us.

The morning session consisted of our team being taught a few basic do’s and don’ts on how to converse with a deaf person. This was really eye opening and all of the team really did sit up and take notice. Our Bridlington Guru, Callum Wilson commented “The session gave me a great insight into hearing loss and will definitely help me in the future with my customers”.  Also Ed Abdulajev our Washington Guru stated “A fantastic introduction, the teacher was great and the basic communication skills will be a fantastic help”.

After lunch Natalie then gave the team a fantastic introduction into basic British Sign Language. This for me was the best part of the day, watching all of our team go from having no knowledge, to communicating what had been learnt back to Natalie, and striking up their first conversation with a deaf person. She was very open whilst talking about her own disability, and our team were unbelievably impressed with what they had learnt. Rebekah Brett from Headingley commented “I learnt a lot on how to make deaf customers feel more at ease when visiting an O2 store. It was great to learn basic sign language, which makes communication easier”. One of our Gurus Alan Featherstone from our Morpeth store commented “Loved yesterday, it was an eye opener for myself, the teacher was fantastic and it has made me think about how I take my own hearing for granted”.

On the back of this training course, Talk Direct have promised the college that we will do all we can to help them. In the next few months we are going to be helping their service users of working age, with some hints and help with how they can get into employment. Our Gurus will also be going back to put on a tech event to help with accessibility and apps that may be able to help with their disability. Hopefully we will see Project iCare and the Doncaster Deaf Trust form a great working partnership in the future. The day can be summed up by our Wallsend Guru Tony Featherstone “Yesterday’s visit to the Deaf Trust was inspirational.  It was interesting to hear from a profoundly deaf person when she walks into a phone shop and it motivated me even more to continue my BSL studies and deliver even better service to my customers”.

“James Blackwell who is the Guru at our Worksop O2 Store was so inspired from this training that he has already found an app to help those that suffer from hearing loss.” - Mark Skelton

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