A COUNCIL says it is fully committed to help those with hearing loss after a successful initiative to train more staff.
A total of 20 frontline customer services centre staff at Hartlepool Borough Council have recently completed a qualification to help provide services to people who are deaf or hard of hearing.
It coincides with Deaf Awareness Week, which runs until Sunday, May 25, an awareness raising campaign which brings together more than 100 deaf charities and organisations under the umbrella of the UK Council on Deafness.
The staff, all of which are based at the Civic Centre, in Victoria Road, Hartlepool, have completed the British Sign Language (BSL) qualification and a further 10 staff are now going on to the next level, say officials.
The training has helped boost their confidence levels according to their line managers.
It is becoming more important as national statistics reveal it is estimated one in six people in the UK are deaf or hard of hearing.
Council bosses have moved to emphasise the importance of the training, in order to help those residents with hearing loss or hearing problems.
Julie Howard, customer services and business manager with Hartlepool Borough Council, said: “It is really important that everyone in the town is given equal access to Council services.
“The training course has significantly improved communications between our frontline staff and people who are deaf or hard of hearing.
“Staff feel much more confident now when dealing with people with hearing loss and this is very much part of our ongoing efforts to strive for continuous service improvement.”
Jim Edwards, Chair of the UK Council on Deafness, said: “Deaf Awareness Week presents a tremendous opportunity to celebrate the positive attitudes to deafness, seek social inclusion and raise awareness of the huge range of organisations both nationally and locally that champion greater deaf awareness and support deaf people and their family and friends.”
For more information about Deaf Awareness Week visit www.deafcouncil.org.uk/deafawarenessweek.html