22 April 2016

Staff sign on to BSL


People who are deaf or hearing impaired often have difficulty expressing their needs or points of view to others. This can lead to feelings of isolation or frustration as they struggle to communicate with people around them.

The Trust is continually trying to break down barriers to communication and make information and services accessible to everyone. In the past, this has led us to create BSLSpace to try and improve accessibility to our services. 

We also facilitate deaf wellbeing groups in Bristol and Bath and are in the process of identifying champions for deaf people. There is also a busy shared Facebook page with colleagues from Bristol City Council and we are in the process of building an online community.

In order to further improve access to our services among the deaf and hearing impaired community, the Trust has now enrolled staff members on the British Sign Language level 1 course. Students enrolled six months ago and nine have completed the course. The course was funded by specialised services although students came from many different teams across the Trust.

Chartered Psychologist in Specialised Deaf Services Dr Mary Griggs said, "I'm really pleased that the students have got so much out of this course and Liz, the trainer from Sign On, has had glowing feedback from the group - none of whom knew any BSL before starting. The students came from all over the Trust and include CPNs, administrators, volunteers and Care Coordinators. The fact that they now have a good basic grasp of British Sign Language is great and will really help us to be more accessible to deaf people."   

Liz Potter from Sign On, who ran the course, said, "I think it's really important to learn BSL if people are meeting deaf patients in their work. Lots of Deaf people feel instantly at ease and comfortable if the professional knows some sign language and can have a simple conversation. It means a lot. The group of students has been lovely and so enthusiastic. I know it's been a lot to take in but they've come on so far! I want to thank Mary and AWP for supporting the students in doing this."

Congratulations to all those staff that completed the course and helped to improve the accessibility of our services for those people with hearing impairment.

Funding this course is one part of a strategy to implement a deaf health charter across the Trust. Look out for more news on the Charter in the future.

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