British Sign Language lesson at Queen Street branch

3 December 2014

Principality scheme helps businesses listen to the needs of hard of hearing customers

Principality Building Society has brought together organisations from across South Wales to improve service to deaf customers and raise awareness of the issues they face.

Representatives from the Touch Trust, Cardiff Foodbank, Cardiff Volleyball Club and Neath Port Talbot College came together at Principality’s Queen’s Street branch in Cardiff to learn key introductory sign language as part of a wider deaf awareness programme from Wales’ largest building society.

For the last few months Principality has been working with British Sign Language (BSL) and deaf awareness instructor Sarah Lawrence from Deaf Friendly Business Solutions to put on a range of workshops and events to improve understanding about the difficulties many deaf and hard of hearing customers experience when making transactions during everyday life and help businesses to give them a better service. 

Sarah, who is also deaf, said: “One of the biggest challenges throughout my life has been using the banking system but Principality has embarked on a deaf friendly programme that will change that.

“From the start Principality has been able to see how deaf aware services fitted into their own organisation’s ethos but also how they were relevant to many others. By improving awareness of deafness and learning basic sign language customers and businesses can benefit from being more accessible and skilled in dealing with people who have quite specific communication needs.”

There are approximately 560,000 deaf and hard of hearing people currently living in Wales alone, while up to 17% of the UK population is estimated to be affected by similar issues. 

Principality launched the deaf awareness initiative to better understand what deaf and hard of hearing customers need, and to help them respond to those needs more effectively in the process.

Principality Group Finance Director, and chair of Business in the Community (BITC) Wales, Steve Hughes said: “Principality is not alone in wanting to ensure it offers consumers a place where they know they will be treated with respect and their needs met. Our Members tell us they enjoy having us as part of their community and we are fully committed to providing for them wherever we can. 

 “We see this course very much as the beginning of an ongoing conversation that Principality will continue to facilitate between not just its own staff and Members, but among other organisations and their hard of hearing customers too.”

Published: 03/12/2014