An estimated 11 million people in the UK experience hearing loss of some kind. A new report by the primarily financial self-regulatory body, the Lending Standards Board, includes insights from leading community representatives and provides key insights and considerations for ensuring financial services firms understand d/Deaf cultures and how they can ensure accessibility for this community.
The report explains the potential that some banks are lenders that have underestimated the number of customers who have some level of hearing loss. In the UK, 40 per cent of people over the age of 50 and 70 per cent of people over the age of 70 are affected.
While elements of financial services mean that d/Deaf customers and those with hearing loss find it much less accessible, the Lending Standards Board report also reveals that reliance on third parties to help them actually leads to a higher potential for fraud. This is caused by d/Deaf customers needing to rely on another individual to interact with financial services firms – meaning they have to share their personal information.
The report explains that ensuring there are internal ‘champions’ in place could be an important first step in addressing the problem. It explains that ‘hearing loss champions’, those with lived experience of hearing loss or those who receive further training on hearing loss and its implications, could become a point of contact for others with questions, conduct training, or deliver awareness sessions.
‘Creating a more inclusive and accessible environment for all customers’
Tom Pursglove MP, Minister of State for disabled people, health and work, also expressed support for report in its foreword. Pursglove said: “Financial services impact all areas of life. That’s why it is so important that we in the UK do all we can to have a fully inclusive financial services industry that works for everyone, regardless of access needs.
“[The report] is an important step towards the shared goal of ensuring that all consumers can bank in a way which is accessible for them.”
Emma Lovell, chief executive of the Lending Standards Board, also commented: “We are delighted to release this report, which provides a much-needed spotlight on the challenges faced by the d/Deaf community when accessing banking and credit services.
“Putting accessibility at the heart of design and delivery helps ensure that every customer can have full and independent access to banking and credit, creating a more inclusive and accessible environment for all customers, including those with hearing loss. By using this report to consider how they currently treat d/Deaf customers and those with hearing loss, firms can continue to improve to deliver better outcomes for all.”