Language & Communication30th October 2013

Ipswich Building Society launches sign language initiative to support hard of hearing customers

Up-skilling staff with deaf awareness and basic BSL improves customer services

by Sarah Lawrence

BSL LearnerIpswich Building Society, a regional independent building society with nine branches in Suffolk, has held a bespoke ten week training course to help staff learn the basics of British Sign Language. Six of the Society’s branches now have staff able to communicate through BSL with members who may have a hearing impairment.

The Society worked closely with Ipswich-based social enterprise Sensing Change, a social work practice which supports adults with sight and / or hearing loss, to provide the weekly training for the eight employees. One employee, Alice Davis of the Society’s branch in Tower Ramparts Shopping Centre, Ipswich, has since embarked upon a British Sign Language Level 1 Qualification.   

Paul Winter, Chief Executive, Ipswich Building Society, said: “We encourage our staff to go the extra mile in their approach to customer service and we hope these newly acquired skills will make a difference to our deaf and hard of hearing members. Our aim is to enable all our members to communicate clearly and easily with our staff around their financial needs.”

BSL LearnersMrs Cordy-Allen, member of Tower Ramparts (Ipswich) branch, stated: “I’ve been a member of the Society for many years, and the staff have always done their utmost to ensure my needs are met, but being able to communicate directly with someone who can ‘sign’ makes my life that little bit easier.”

Mrs Cordy-Allen also emphasised that, “often those who have a hearing impairment use the internet for all of their financial needs, as it’s easier. Knowing that a branch has someone who can sign may make them more likely to communicate in person.”  

Alongside its commitment to providing an outstanding service to members the Society is also active within the local community, enabling staff to volunteer for charity and community organisations and also providing “Money Day” financial education sessions to primary school children. Last year this totalled over 550 staff hours.

Find out more by visiting or follow Ipswich Building Society on Twitter or Facebook

Article by Sarah Lawrence

posted in Community / Language & Communication

30th October 2013