Many employers worry about employing Deaf British Sign Language (BSL) users but actually, there’s no need.  With some simple adjustments a Deaf member of staff can be a very valuable member of your team.  Here are some tips to help you consider how to make your workplace Deaf friendly.

Access to Work

When employing Deaf British Sign Language users ensure they are aware of and utilising the government funded Access to Work (ATW) Scheme.  An ATW assessor will assess their needs, and funding for communication support and equipment can be provided.


Team meetings and individual 1:1 meetings need to be scheduled well in advance so that communication support can be booked if needed.  Provide interpreters, palantypists, Communication Support Workers, note takers or lip speakers with minutes and any notes/ presentation in advance. Ensure that minutes are taken and circulated quickly as Deaf staff members are unlikely to be able to take notes.

Employing Deaf British Sign Language Users - a woman wearing a bright orange top and a big smile is using BSL to communicate.


Invest in our Deaf Awareness training so your team feel confident and comfortable communicating with Deaf colleagues.  Some staff members may wish to learn some basic BSL and it would be great to encourage this. 


Ask your Deaf staff members how they like to communicate when not face to face.  It could be that Skype or Facetime is better for them or they may prefer you to use the next generation text service.  Other preferences may be email or text message. 

Evacuation Plan

Ensure that you have a Personal Emergency Evacuation Plan which you have discussed with your Deaf staff member. This must includes how the staff member will be alerted in the event of a fire. A few examples are a pager system, flashing smoke alarms or a fire warden.


Communication is key.  Deaf people are very adept at overcoming potential barriers and difficulties and will know what works best for them – just ask!

It really isn’t hard to make your workplace accessible. By putting these simple tips into action you can reap the benefits of employing Deaf British Sign Language Users.

Find more tips in this 3 minute video with our CEO Jennie Williams.

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