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Fentons gets wise to needs of deaf clients
Fentons Solicitors LLP has become the first UK law firm to be given specialist training by DeafWise, the organisation committed to improving communication for deaf people across the country.
The leading serious injury firm has undertaken to ensure that all 250 members of staff in its Manchester and London offices – including management and support staff as well as fee-earners – undergo bespoke training to ensure the best level of service to its deaf and hearing-impaired clients.
“One in six of the UK population is deaf, and so we felt it was important that we as a firm had a better understanding of those people’s needs and how we can better communicate with our hearing-impaired clients,” said Alistair Macdonald, partner and head of Compliance at Fentons.
“As a firm we pride ourselves on ensuring everyone has access to justice regardless of any disability,” he said. “By undertaking this training programme, we are equipping everyone with the tools to provide the best level of service to all our deaf and hearing-impaired clients.”
Alistair said that Fentons had always strived to take into account the equality and diversity needs of its clients.
“We understand that simple shifts in behaviour – such as using e-mail instead of making a phone call – can help put our clients with hearing difficulties at ease,” he said. “We also use text messaging as a way of communicating and online instant messaging for those clients who prefer to discuss their case in that way.”
Alistair said the firm also has T-Loop systems across its offices, as well as providing clients with access to British Sign Language interpreters and communication support workers – something that DeafWise was quick to praise.
“Organisations often face daily communication barriers to their deaf customers and colleagues,” said Spencer Clark, of DeafWise. “Fentons was keen to take part in our deaf awareness training so that we could use our unique experience and range of solutions to help them engage better with their deaf and hearing-impaired clients.
“They already have the systems in place to ensure they are able to better communicate with deaf people – be they colleagues, clients or potential clients,” Spencer said, “but through the training we provided they now have a better understanding of how and when to use those systems.
“Fentons has demonstrated a commitment to continual improvement of the service it provides to deaf people, and we are looking forward to developing our relationship with the further training sessions already scheduled for both Manchester and London in 2011.”
For more information about DeafWise, or to learn more about the range of deaf awareness training and deaf access services available to organisations, contact Spencer Clark at DeafWise on 0845 466 7153 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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