Website should ease the path to deaf-friendly traders


newslatestA new website aims to help deaf people find electricians, plumbers and decorators who are able to communicate with them.
The DeafProSussex website has been launched by the Deaf Cultural Outreach Group (DeafCOG), a deaf-led social enterprise that supports users of British Sign Language (BSL).
As well as helping deaf people in Sussex find traders, service-providers and professionals who can communicate with them, the website – which DeafCOG believes is unique – also allows deaf professionals and deaf-led companies to advertise their services.
DeafCOG is now calling on deaf and deaf-friendly traders to sign up to the site.
Every trader will be vetted to ensure they can communicate with deaf people, and then categorised as “fluent in British Sign Language”, “communicates clearly and visually with some knowledge of BSL”, or “communicates clearly”.
The website draws up a profile for every trader – which includes “information they want to tell you, what we have found out about them, and feedback from previous customers” – as well as providing a short video describing their services in BSL or subtitled English.
DeafCOG said it wanted “to create a space where being deaf is perceived positively rather than as a hindrance”.
The project was funded by a grant from the Strengthening DPULOs Facilitation Fund, set up by the government’s Office for Disability Issues.
Sarah Playforth, one of DeafCOG’s directors, said: “This fund recognises the importance the government places on user-led projects that enable people to create their own income-generating activities rather than rely on charitable support.”
The website was designed by two students from the University of Brighton, Mike Ernst and Daniel Whiteland-Smith, who won a competition set up by DeafCOG directors and the university’s social engagement team.
John Walker, a DeafCOG director and senior research fellow at the university, said: “It is hard for deaf people to find accessible traders but there are also professional deaf traders who are not used by their employers when serving deaf and hard of hearing customers.
“DeafProSussex will bring together the best traders, who are native users of BSL as well as clear communicators, to one web page.”
13 November 2013