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Casey Group of Companies

CaseyThe Casey Group provides construction and refurbishment services to social landlords. The company prides itself on 'quality' in all areas of their work, including customer service and therefore wanted to extend on previous equality training.

Training Objective: To provide customer liaison officers and front line staff with a better understanding of issues around hearing loss and practical skills to improve communication with D/deaf tenants.

What did we provide: One day tailored course to introduce them to British Sign Language (BSL), raise their deaf awareness and teach them signs specific to their area of work.

The training was hands on, interactive and balanced the need for information with lively activities to embed learning. Two tutors delivered the course, both were deaf and shared many relevant, and often funny, stories to highlight the barriers D/deaf people face and how these can be overcome. Read more about HearFirst training.

What did they say:
Roy Looms, Resident Liaison Officer said: "I didn't think I would learn too much on a one day course, but I was really surprised at how much we managed to do. The trainers taught us words that are relevant to what we do at Casey. It was a really great course, and I've since been on the BSL website to learn some more."

Debbie Hubbard, Corporate Services at Casey said: "The course gave us a good introduction to BSL, but also covered many of the issues that you should be aware of when dealing with deaf people or those who are hard of hearing.

Implementing new skills:
Not only did the participants continue to practise the signs, they also wrote a fabulous and informative blog about what they'd learnt and posted it on the company website. They also created a short film on You Tube and on their website to let Deaf people know that staff at Casey are deaf aware and know some basic BSL.

Read more about HearFirst training

Robinwood Activity Centre

Robin WoodStaff at Robinwood Activity Centre in Todmorden wanted to learn basic British Sign Language to help them communicate with the occasional deaf child staying at the centre. The training day arrived which happened to be the first day back for staff after a 1 month summer holiday.

HearFirst tutors Ayesha and Julie, were expecting to have to work hard to keep the group focused and on task. How wrong they were! 18 outdoor instructors sat in a cold caving hall, poised, bright eyed and bushy tailed whilst they learnt meet and greet signs, signs relating to their area of work and the fingerspelling alphabet. All that signing was interspersed with deaf awareness and useful tips about working with deaf children. By the end of the intensive half day session the group were confident communicators, improvising where appropriate and loving every minute as we were too.

Participant comment 'Best course I've been on here. I've learnt things I would never have even thought about before.'

Learn what British Sign Language Training is available in the workplace.

Great PlacesGreat Places Housing Group

Mandatory Equality and Diversity Training for Housing staff can be engaging, interactive and informative as Great Places Housing Group have found out.

Over 400 staff have received Equality and Diversity training across their North West offices and there's more to do. We set ourselves high standards in participant feedback but with the best will in world can we really please every person on every mandatory course. After the first 300 staff had been trained Grenville Williams, Learning and Development Manager said this.

"The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, and I can't recall seeing anything remotely critical."
Individual comments included, "I thought the lady taking the training was exceptional and made it rather interesting and fun as well as interactive which was good."

To find out what we include on our Equality and Diversity Courses click here.

To find out the secret of our success - try us out for yourself ;)

Yarlington Housing Group

YarlingtonDisability Equality and Awareness Training for Yarlington Housing Group in Yeovil, Somerset went well once we learnt the lingo! Some tongue in cheek feedback Somerset style…..

'She happers on but I dare say we're dabsters now. That there tutor were sprack and spry all day.' In other words the staff feel much more confident and skilled following the training. The tutor made the course interesting and lively.

On a serious note, we've been to Yeovil several times now to deliver half day Disability Equality and Awareness Sessions. The sessions help the organisation comply with the Equality Act 2010 and up skill staff to improve the customer experience.

Learn what's included in Disability Equality and Awareness Training.

Manchester Metropolitan University

Manchester Met UniversityWhen a deafblind student enrolled on an MA course in Creative Writing, University staff needed extra skills to ensure them and everyone in their learning group felt comfortable communicating. We delivered a bespoke deafblind awareness training workshop to help them. HearFirst researched the specific access needs for the student and delivered a relevant and thought provoking session around communication, access to information and mobility.

'It was really useful and certainly stimulated a lot of discussion.' Nicki Ho, Learning Development Adviser

More details of deafblind awareness training are here.

Royal National College for the Blind

Royal National College for BlindRoyal National College for the Blind is the UK's leading college of further education and training for people (16+) who are blind or partially sighted and with other disabilities.

Several students have Alström Syndrome a complex rare disease, the symptoms can include sight loss, hearing loss, diabetes, heart, lung and kidney problems and many other effects. HearFirst is the only training provider in the UK to deliver Alström Syndrome Awareness Training.

Participants were eager to find out what they could do to encourage each student to reach their full potential. As this is a facilitated (rather than rigidly structured) course we focused on certain areas of particular relevance for the group including diet and exercise. Interesting points were discussed around the need to push each student to their potential and not accept 'teenager laziness' against the understanding that students with Alström Syndrome will often have fatigue and some days are worse than others.

The whole day was effective and relevant for all concerned and was made all the better by our guest speaker Alex Rayson a young adult with Alström Syndrome who is also a Director of the Charity Alström Syndrome UK
Learn more about staff training in complex rare diseases.

Rastrick High School

Rastrick High School

We were delighted to contribute to Rastrick High School Cultural Diversity Day. Packed with butties and a passport - HearFirst's BSL tutor Ayesha Gavin travelled across the border to Yorkshire. Ayesha did a fabulous job with Year 7 and 8 students, delivering 4 back to back sessions to raise awareness of deafness and British Sign Language.

Denise Oliver who organised the event said afterwards. "Great day yesterday. I've been told the students were signing all day after their session. Thanks again."

More details of Fun Signing sessions for schools is here.

Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

Parliamentary and Health Service OmbudsmanCatering for diverse needs is key to great customer service. Staff at London and Manchester Offices certainly know more about the needs of deaf people after HearFirst Director Julie Ryder delivered a series of '60 minute makeover' style lunchtime sessions. Julie planned the minutes meticulously to ensure the best use of time for each group!

Every single respondent said that your session had broadened their knowledge of the subject, and found the information about deaf culture and communication preferences particularly helpful and interesting, with comments such as 'Julie put deafness into perspective in a way that I had never considered before, I had not considered the impact of deafness on a person's level of written English before'.

Equally everyone was extremely positive about the style of the presentation, lots of feedback that they found it enjoyable and engaging, and the interactive style was very well received. They also found you to be a 'brilliant speaker', and 'very knowledgeable and on the ball'. One added 'Impressed and inspired by the speaker, best session ever, really opened my eyes about the subject matter'.

Click here to find out how we can work with you

Deaf Awareness training for cow vets!Deaf Awareness training for cow vets!

The world hasn't gone mad. The Royal Veterinary College has a number of deaf students and deaf clients (of the human kind) and wanted to raise awareness and improve communication. Other front line staff as well as cow vets were invited to the training event which was a moooooge success!

Southwark Legal Advice

22 front line workers from a range of organisations attended Sensory Awareness Training in Peckham. The learners found out about deaf awareness, visual awareness and deafblind awareness. Many people were surprised by the variety of communication methods people used and had great fun joining in with the interactive games and activities. More details of this course is here

Blackburn CollegeI attended the intro to BSL course on Thursday 24th June at MOSI in Manchester and I wanted to take this opportunity to tell you how much I enjoyed the course.

I have never done any signing before and I was a little apprehensive when I booked onto the course but the tutors, Julie and Kate were excellent, the course was pitched just right and I felt that I got a lot out of the day.

I would recommend anyone to go onto a course such as this, I found it to be both interesting and enlightening, the theory parts mixed with the signing parts worked really well and I learned such a lot.

Thank you. Janine Smith, Training & Development Coordinator, The Training People at Blackburn College

Salix Homes

SalixWe are popping the champagne corks for staff from Salix Homes who have successfully completed their Level 1 British Sign Language Award. The staff are going on wards and upwards and are starting Level 2 any time soon under the expert tuition of our Deaf BSL tutor, Judith Kidd. Well done to you all and good luck for your Level 2.

Northumbria Police

Northumberland CouncilStaff from Northumbria Police, Gateshead Division enjoyed a full day of British Sign Language training, delivered in the beautiful Sage building beside the River Tyne. The event had a real positive impact and was found to be hugely beneficial and enjoyable to everyone who took part. PC Wayne Sinclair who arranged the event summed up everyone’s thoughts on the day and said, “This training will improve our links to the Deaf Community. I will recommend British Sign Language training is contnued in other areas of Northumbria Police, not just Gateshead Division.”

CIC - Community Integrated Care
at Middlesbrough Football Club

Middlesbrough Football ClubCIC - Community Integrated Care is the 15th largest adult social care charity in UK. Their Independent Living Services support adults with disabilities and/or mental health concerns; Senior Care Services provide specialist intermediate, nursing and residential care; Addictions Outreach delivers treatment for alcohol, drugs and other addictions; and Homelessness Relief provide accommodation and support for young homeless adults.

Community Integrated CareTheir 2 day HearFirst training event involved over 30 staff and was funded by Middlesbrough Football Club. The event kicked off in style at the impressive Riverside Stadium. Here is an online article with more information about the training and showing Middlesbrough footballers with HearFirst tutor, Mickey Fellowes getting to grips with some British Sign Language

All About Audiences

Sun SurferWe are delighted to be working alongside Sunsurfer Arts and Consultancy and All About Audiences to deliver some fabulous Arts focused Disability Equality and Awareness Training Courses. The first sessions have been delivered to staff from The Manchester Museum.

Manchester Museum The Manchester Museum Curator of Public Programmes, Anna Bunney, attended the training and said afterwards, “I want to ensure that we develop more accessible activities. I have been both inspired and gained new insights into issues and solutions. Thank you for a stimulating course.”

Creative Partnerships and Cravenwood Primary School

Creative Partnerships and Cravenwood Primary SchoolWe delivered fabulous signing and singing sessions for over 300 children at Cravenwood Primary School across all year groups thanks to funding from the Creative Partnerships Scheme. Ofsted recognises the benefits of Creative Partnerships in its latest report called, Learning: creative approaches that raise standards. Head Teacher, Gudrun Heatley said, “The children loved learning the signs. This event tied in with our school wide theme of ‘words’ and helped the children think about other ways of expressing themselves. I was amazed how quickly they picked it all up.” HearFirst’s sister company TalkFirst Baby Signing also had input into the day and their signing puppet ‘Dexter’ was a big hit with the children.


ConnexionsBetter Choices delivers the Connexions service in Manchester, Rochdale, Salford and Tameside. Connexions is the youth support service for all young people 13-19 regardless of their background or circumstances. Young people who have learning difficulties or disabilities can get support from Connexions until they are 25.

To assist staff to communicating with young deaf adults we delivered a full day training course on deaf awareness and communication tactics. Staff tried out new ways to improve their face to face communication, they understood what equipment may help a deaf person and learnt about how other professionals support deaf people.

Ashton Pioneer Homes

Ashton Pioneer HomesAshton Pioneer Homes (APH) has quickly developed to become the leading community based Housing Association in the Tameside area. We have worked with APH for a number of years and it was great to go back this time to find out how some of the ideas from previous training have now been implemented. They are looking to raise the bar even more and the further training sessions teased out new thoughts and suggestions which they can implement to benefit their tenants.

Colne Housing

Colne HousingColne Housing Society provides, manages and maintains high quality, affordable homes in North Essex. They wanted to follow on from their previous Disability Equality and Awareness Training and learn some British Sign Language to help front line staff provide a better service to Deaf Tenants. The 1 day intensive British Sign Language course involved learning signs to help with basic conversation and also included work related signs e.g. repair, complaint, neighbour, Tenancy Agreement etc.

This one day tailored B.S.L. course is extremely popular with Housing Associations and is also a fantastic opportunity for team building.

Hertford Museum

Hertford MuseumFollowing a recent refurbishment, the museum has seen some big improvements and exciting changes, including new lifts to enable access to all public areas of the museum. As part of the strategy to open up the Museum to everyone, staff undertook Disability Equality and Awareness Training. Helen Gurney, Museum Curator said, “There are a few specific things I want to change at the Museum which I have gleaned out of today’s course. Thank you to Julie and Debi for an informative, useful and enjoyable training course. I would definitely recommend you to other organisations.”

Work Solutions

Work SolutionsWork Solutions is one of the largest operating companies in the North-West based, not-for-profit, Manchester Solutions Group. With over 200 staff working across Greater Manchester and beyond and an annual turnover in excess of £12m, Work Solutions is a major provider of employment, recruitment and skills services to employers, local people and Government.

The company has a diverse work force and client base and it has been an absolute pleasure working with them delivering Diversity and Equality training sessions. The staff responded to the training with a 100% positive attitude. We are confident that the company will move forward build on the momentum created by these sessions to look at new and exciting ways to deliver equal access to jobs and services for everyone.

Oldham College

OldhamOldham College understands the business sense in:

  • Keeping everyone within the organisation knowledgeable on different stands of Equality Legislation.
  • Staff knowing how legislation affects them as an employee and their students.

The Legislation and Discrimination Courses we deliver are mandatory for staff and very well received. Courses are presented in a fun and ‘digestable’ format with a clear message.

Criminal Records Bureau

Criminal Records BureauThis has to be one of our favourite series of courses organisation by CRB staff member Lisa Johnson. Lisa is deaf herself and spearheaded the campaign to get more staff signing within the organisation. Almost 70 staff have now received British Sign Language work based training at the Liverpool Office. The sessions proved a BIG success and not only helped with improving communication between deaf and hearing staff but contributed to effective team building and cross departmental communication.

Manchester Metropolitan University

Colne HousingOne of the most satisfying areas of work for us is when we know we are making a direct difference to a deaf or disabled individual. Manchester Metropolitan University called us to help out with a deaf student who was feeling isolated from fellow students. Fellow students were unsure how to communicate and needed knowledge and confidence to help increase and improve interaction.

HearFirst arranged a tailored Deaf Awareness training session for Manchester University Students. To engage the students we developed a session which linked into their course (Hospitality/Events Management) as well as teaching them good communication techniques.

Victim SupportVictim Support

Victim SupportVictim Support staff in Staffordshire found a half day session on deaf awareness very useful and informative.

“Now I have more awareness I shall feel more comfortable when supporting deaf or hard of hearing people. This was an excellent course.”

Greater Manchester Police

Greater Manchester PoliceIn order to “Fight Crime and Protect People”, it is vital the police can communicate with everyone in society, including Deaf BSL users. Our 1 day Introduction to British Sign Language course was just the job for Greater Manchester Police. The course has been rolled out to many staff in several divisions. This is what participant Chris Harrison, Detective Constable at the Economic Crime Section, Fraud Unit in Ashton Under Lyne had to say:

Just a few lines to say how much I enjoyed the training you gave us yesterday. You were right, I was amazed at how much I'd learned in a day, and had fun doing it too! That was one of the best presented, most interesting and informative courses I have been on for many years, and I hope I get an opportunity to use what you taught us, I will keep my folder handy and I will pull it out from time to time to practice!

To find out more about the work we are doing with Greater Manchester Police, contact us. (Added 15th September 2009)

Bradford District Care Trust

Bradford NHS

Julie Donaldson is the Corporate Services Co-ordinator at Bradford District Care Trust. She spent a lot if time choosing the right course for her staff and has gone for a programme of full day training courses which we have tailored for them. The morning is spent learning about the range deafness, communication and technology deaf people use. In the afternoon we focus on British Sign Language and teach participants a range of basic signs to help them in their work. The course has been a big success……….of course! The evaluation forms are always very positive but it is nice to find out what’s said on the grapevine! After the course a participant told Julie…. “it was the best training I have been to…..”

To find out more about this course or how we can tailor a course for you please contact us. (Added 15th September 2009)

Manchester City Council

Manchester City CouncilWhat did we do: Trained 147 staff in basic British Sign Language over 4 days.

Who to: Passenger Transport Assistants

Why: To enable them to use basic signs to meet and greet children who communicate using British Sign Language.

What did they say: Iain Larkin, General Manager, Community Transport Services, Environment & Operational Support said: Your course was received wonderfully well, everyone really enjoyed it. I don't think any course we have done has had such positive reception. They will be talking about it for a long time to come.

To learn the BSL alphabet or some basic signs for yourself click here to go to our You Tube channel (Added 15th September 2009)

Salford City Academy

Salford Academy We continue to enjoy working with Year 8 and 9 pupils from Salford City Academy. The pupils ‘opt in’ to study basic British Sign Language as part of their enrichment programme. Over a 6 week block of 90 minute sessions the pupils learn signs around family, weather, colours, numbers, days of the week, question signs, food and much more. Well done Salford City Academy – you are a clever lot!

Stop Press: The pupils are enjoying this so much, some have opted to repeat the sessions again this half term! Natalie Ingham, Enrichment Coordinator says, “they want to be A* PUPILS!” (Added 15th September 2009)

Parliamentary and Health Ombudsman

Parliamentary and Health OmbudsmanSuccessful work relationships are important in all organisations. Communication between staff is a key factor. When deaf and hearing people work together it can be a real challenge on both sides.

We recently trained staff from the Parliamentary and Health Ombudsman to help them improve team and communication skills with their new deaf colleague. Following on from the training this is what she said:

Everyone seems keen to involve me as an equal colleague and to ensure that I know what is happening (e.g. with verbal announcements) and I think my manager is learning about how to adapt to having a deaf employee too. We have a team lunch usually once a month and people have been thinking more about the environments at venues and how this affects me. They all want me to teach them some signs...and set something up for short sessions! I think my manager is looking into whether staff could go on BSL level 1 courses and if not they are keen for me to do some short sessions to give them some basics. I've also noticed my colleagues have approached me more and I think people feel less nervous about coming up and talking to me, so the training has had a positive impact. I have also been explaining about textphones and how typetalk works, and how to use my screenphone to take calls if I am out of the office. Another key issue is about lipreading and people realising how tiring this can be for me and how easy it can be for me to miss information.

DID YOU KNOW? If you have a deaf member of staff and think deaf awareness training would help their hearing colleagues, you can gain funding for this from the Government Scheme Access to Work. Please contact us for further details. (Added 15th September 2009)

Beaver Road Primary School, Didsbury, Manchester

Beaver Road school

Thanks to HearFirst tutors, Kate and Mickey for their excellent work delivering a 1 day intensive British Sign Language Course to teaching assistants at Beaver Rd Primary School………

“I would like to thank you for the training we received today. Mickey and Kate were amazing and made our day a complete success. We received top quality training and had fun throughout!! They made it so easy for us to follow by using the techniques they put in place, and made us feel confident enough to carry through what we had learnt in role play situations. We learnt far more than we had expected to learn in one day and it has inspired most of us to want to learn further skills. I personally would now like to eventually go on to completing level one BSL, to enable me to communicate confidently with future pupils who are hearing impaired. Once again many thanks and a big, big thank you to Mickey and Kate.” Sarah Herbert, Beaver Road Primary

To find out more about how we can help in your school contact us. (Added 15th September 2009)

Norfolk Probation ServiceCongratulations to Tracy Arnold from Norfolk Probation Service who completed a very intensive 1 day course and gained Unit 101 of CACDP Level 1 in British Sign Language.

The recommended time to complete the Unit is 10 hours and is usually taught 2 hours a week over 5 weeks to give learners time to absorb the information and practice the signs. Tracy wanted the qualification quickly and our tutor Kate Brierley did a fantastic job preparing the materials and tutoring Tracy. Well done to you both! (Added 1st May 2009)


Hyndburn Borough Council front line staff enjoyed a half day deaf awareness session. The workshop, organised by Diversity Officer Shaheen Amaan, included tips on better communication and useful equipment. It also highlighted the range of deaf people that staff may come into contact with and the communication methods they may use. (Added 1st May 2009)

BradnetBradnet (Formerly known as Asian Disability Network) is a user-led organisation that seeks to empower and enable disabled people to lead their chosen lifestyle by providing appropriate services such as:

  • person-centred outreach and advocacy
  • one-to-one support and welfare rights advice
  • help in education and employment.

Obviously it is a key requirement that the staff within the organisation receive regular disability equality and awareness training. Our challenge as training providers is to ensure that all the staff are engaged in training whether it is their 1st or 5th Disability Course! This email received after the course from one of the course delegates said it all….

”I know quite a bit about the key points of the course and with my disability work background am fairly knowledgeable, yet I found the course very interesting and although initially apprehensive about attending my 5th Disability awareness course, am elated to have attended! I personally just wanted to say well done and thank you for a progressive, interactive course.”
(Added 1st May 2009)

Housing Associations working with HearFirst



Housing PendleWe regularly work with the whole spectrum of staff from Housing Associations across the UK. Feedback continues to be excellent. Please contact us for details of how we can bring joy to your staff and train them in British Sign Language, deaf and disability awareness!

The plumbers and plasters from Housing Pendle were especially satisfying to work with as initially they were resistant to training but word soon spread that HearFirst training wasn’t like the ‘usual’ and they made some fantastic contributions. Well done Housing Pendle!

On another note - here is Nigel Staines from Stafford and Rural Homes being presented with his HearFirst Certificate by one of Stafford and Rural Homes Directors. (Added January 2009)

Chad McGitchie, Visitor Services Manager had been ‘HearFirsted’ in a previous job and wanted to bring some of our magic to his new colleagues at Whitworth Art Gallery. We delivered basic British Sign Language Training to the majority of staff over 2 days.

Many staff had their appetite whetted and want to go on to do more BSL. This enthusiasm is fantastic and means that Deaf visitors can expect a better experience at the Gallery and staff are better equipped to meet Visitors needs.

Following the success of this course we have gone on to deliver further training in other departments of The University of Manchester. (Added January 2009)


Congratulations to all those front line staff who did so well with the British Sign Language Training over the summer. (Added January 2009)

Forestry Commission

What a privilege it is to be working with the Forestry Commission. We are delivering tailored 1 day British Sign Language Courses in many beautiful locations across the UK.

Staff are quick on the uptake and love to learn the signs relating to their work. The aim of the nationwide program is to improve communication skills across the UK in relation to Deaf visitors. (Added January 2009)

Well we had to behave ourselves on this suite of courses!! Up to now Deaf people across Manchester have been getting away with signing all sorts in front of the Police and them being none the wiser. Not anymore! Front line officers and staff in several divisions have received basic British Sign Language training. On a more serious note this will help when reporting crimes and in many other areas of police work. (Added January 2009)

NDCSThe National Deaf Children's Society (NDCS) is the national charity dedicated to creating a world without barriers for deaf children and young people.

Raena Raja is the BME Project Officer whose has the responsibility of ensuring more Black, Minority and Ethnic Families can access NDCS information and services. Part of the project has involved recruiting minority language interpreters to work with the NDCS Family Officers to ensure information can be correctly relayed.

We have delivered Deaf Awareness training sessions across the UK to the language interpreters so they are more aware of deaf issues and feel more confident and professional working around deaf children.

Ayan Adan, Language Interpreter who attended the London session said, “I have learnt a lot today that could be useful when communicating with families of deaf children. I really enjoyed the training sessions. It was all very good.”
(Added January 2009)