Companies spend a significant amount of money on developing staff, whether it is on team-building away days, attending conferences
or enhancing technical skills such as coding languages.
Part of the budget should go towards honing soft skills to nurture a positive culture among the workforce. While traditional forms of training might
involve presentations, role-plays and task-based problem-solving, companies may not have considered basic sign language as a means of complementing the existing
training provision. Yet, there are ample reasons to support implementing Basic Sign Language training as part of your staff’s ongoing professional development due to following reasons:
1 Your customers will thank you
There is a lot of buzz around the area of customer experience. While many Managers are busy mapping customer interactions and implementing email automation,
there are people who will find it harder to access your perfectly designed customer journey. If your team members are able to understand the barriers and
communicate with a hard of hearing or deaf customer, that person will gain a positive experience of your company. You benefit from increased customer opportunities
and accessing a new market by understanding how to make your promotions and offers more accessible leading to increased sales.
2 Your workforce will be more inclusive
If someone joins the team who is hard of hearing or deaf and communicates in sign language, they will feel more included if staff are deaf aware and have
some sign language. The team will also feel more confident in approaching their deaf teammate.
3 Supporting each other
If you include deaf awareness and sign language training as part of your workplace development programme, it could be fun to foster a “sign language only”
hour in the afternoon where those who need to speak to each other can sign. This will give hearing members of staff the chance to practise their new skills
with each other and deaf colleagues the opportunity to offer support and be more fully involved in their team’s development.
4 A chance to develop empathy
One of the most important soft skills you can adopt in the workplace is empathy. Learning sign language or any other language is a fast track to becoming
more empathic. As a language learner, the struggles that come with not being able to communicate fluently mean you experience a sense of humility. This
means that, if someone joins the team whose first language is not English, co-workers will know to adapt their speech and gesturing to help the newcomer
5 Improving non-verbal communication skills
Have you ever sat through a boardroom meeting, asked your colleagues how they felt it went and realised that everyone present has a completely different?
impression of what actually happened? Deciphering those all-important non-verbal signals can be frustrating. Being able to read another’s body language
helps you know your next move in a business situation, so honing those skills is vital for a successful outcome. Learning sign language, your team will
improve their ability to pick up on non-verbal cues and will therefore become a better asset in the boardroom or on the sales floor.
These are just a few great reasons to implement Deaf Awareness and Basic Sign Language training among the staff members in the companies.
The Employers’ Federation of Ceylon Training Centre started a training in Basic Sign Language in June 2019.
Picture descriptions for vision impaired persons:
1 Ms. Chammi Dias conducting the session.
2 Ms. Manique Gunaratne presenting the activities of The Employers’ Federation of Ceylon Training & Disability Resource Centre.
Resource Person – Beyond the Reach Project of Internet Society Sri Lanka Chapter