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UK Banks Join Forces to Support SigningBanks.UK Launch, Improving Inclusivity for Deaf Community

Financial service providers from across the UK have joined forces with charities and accessibility organisations to support the launch of SigningBanks.uk, a new website aiming to improve the experience of deaf people when engaging with banks and lenders.

The new SigningBanks.uk website has launched in coordination with the first day of UK Deaf Awareness Week on 7 May and will provide resources and guides for deaf people and financial services firms, and will help deaf customers navigate banks’ accessibility support and highlight accessible financial advice helplines. All support on the site is available in both plain English and BSL.

SigningBanks.uk brings together over 20 partners from inside and outside the financial services sector, including Nationwide, Lloyds Banking Group, Barclays, Monzo, HSBC and Starling Bank. These firms will join forces to boost deaf accessibility by enhancing banking services, technology, and awareness.

With the support of the government disability ambassador for banking, Kathryn Townsend, and stakeholders from the deaf community, SigningBanks.uk is developing a new interface, bringing banking services together with their deaf customers.

Kathryn Townsend, head of customer vulnerability and accessibility at Nationwide, and the UK Government disability and access ambassador for banking, commented: “We believe in making banking accessible, inclusive and fairer for all, which is why we are delighted to be sponsoring the new SigningBanks.uk website.

“The ethos behind the website and the support and content it aims to provide means it will be a crucial resource in helping to achieve that ambition. Collaboration is key to ensuring that deaf customers have access to all the vital financial information they need, and so we are pleased to be working with the wider financial services industry on this new site.”

‘Everyone deserves seamless access to financial resources and services’

Approximately 12 million people in the UK are deaf or have hearing loss.

Last year, a Lending Standards Board (LSB) report explored the challenges that deaf people face when using banking services – which can include a lack of information or support in British Sign Language (BSL), or a low level of staff awareness about deaf peoples’ needs – and highlighted how these challenges can lead to poor customer service experiences or increased risks of financial vulnerability.

Breda Leyne, director of ESquared, SigningBanks
Breda Leyne, director of ESquared

Breda Leyne, director of ESquared, the social enterprise behind SigningBanks UK, also discussed the importance of the initiative: “SigningBanks.uk is built on the belief that everyone, regardless of their hearing ability, deserves seamless access to financial resources and services. Through innovation, advocacy and collaboration, we are determined to bridge the gap between the financial sector and the deaf community.

“We will be working hard to promote the needs of deaf customers, share existing good practice and technological innovations, and highlight outstanding gaps in service provision.

“The financial services sector has made significant progress in the last 12 months on deaf accessibility, both in terms of recognising the challenges that deaf customers face and with more banks taking concrete steps to improve access. There is still much more progress to be made, and we’re excited for SigningBanks.uk to be part of that.

“The support offered by the site will grow over time and we would urge banks and lenders across the sector to get involved if they aren’t already.”

Following on from last year’s report by the LSB, Access for d/Deaf Customers in Banking & Credit, an updated report from the LSB, also published today, shows UK banks and lenders have made progress in offering better accessibility support to deaf customers.

Author

  • Tom joined The Fintech Times in 2022 as part of the operations team; later joining the editorial team as a journalist.

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