Tim Roberts, senior marketing manager for UK & Europe at HSBC Asset Management, shared his story as part of Global Awareness Accessibility Day - an opportunity to get people talking, thinking and learning about what it is like to have a disability.
Tim explained a little about how he became deaf: "My mother contracted rubella during pregnancy so I was born deaf. Growing up, I had no privacy. I would have to ask my parents to ring up a friend; arranging a date or going to a film was hard.
Now, he explains: "Technology has advanced so my life is supported with apps and devices. At home I have a system whereby if the doorbell, smoke alarm or alarm clock goes off, I am alerted via a vibrating pad under my pillow or a flashing light in the living room.
"It makes people jump when they see or hear it the first time but it's a crucial piece of equipment for me.
"People support me in many different ways, both at home and in the office. When I make phone calls, I type (via a secure app) instead of talking to a relay operator at the National Relay Centre in Liverpool (funded by BT) where staff work in secure offices and have to sign the Official Secrets Act. This is used by many senior officials including MPs and directors."
On conference calls at work, Tim has an iPad by his laptop. The laptop shows the Webex or Presentation and the iPad the subtitles, which are provided by an external company called AI-Media. They are a few seconds behind so Tim explains "be patient if it is my turn to talk, I need to catch up!"
Tim has some tips for communicating with deaf people:
• Make sure you face the window when you talk so the light shines on your face or that the room is lit well enough for lip-reading
• Don't over-exaggerate your speech. Just talk normally and let them tell you if there is a problem
• Talk one at a time. I can only lip-read one person.
• Don't talk too fast. Not only is it hard to lip-read but hard for people typing what you are saying to keep up.
Tim points out that many companies fail when it comes to serving deaf people and gives an example of a good company.
Virgin Atlantic, who were one of the first airlines to subtitle their in-flight films and staff learn basic sign language. As a result, many deaf people will only fly with Virgin.
"That's a great example of thinking and learning about the customer, and gets people like me talking," he says.
HSBC is committed to Diversity and Inclusion and our aspirations are linked to our shared ambition. We are committed to embedding a more inclusive and diverse culture, increasing representation and support for wormen, BAME minorities, LGBT+, Disability and other groups. We are the headline sponsor of the Women in Investment awards in conjunction with Investment Week.