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Sainsbury's launches sign language scheme for its 161,000 staff

| Innovation and technology

Sainsbury’s has introduced an initiative to help its staff members communicate with deaf customers. As part of its non-visible disabilities awareness week, Sainsbury’s created a film to educate its staff on the basics of British Sign Language.

Through holding workshops with its deaf sign language colleagues and gaining insights into their own experiences with shopping, the supermarket chain determined the most helpful phrases to teach its 161,000 staff to help deaf customers.

The grocer has invested 50,000 hours in training its store staff how to help customers with visible and non-visible disabilities.

“As a child growing up with a deaf parent, I know how difficult it can be for a deaf and hearing person to communicate directly," staff member Tracey Kennard said in the film.

"Since watching the film, I have noticed a real change in my colleagues.

 “They have gone from being nervous and handing over to me when a deaf customer needs assistance, to having the confidence to have a go – and once they’ve started, they often find they can help the customer without my involvement.

“All it takes is a simple signed ‘hello’ for a deaf customer to feel valued, and a colleague to feel more comfortable in continuing the conversation using gestures or written words to make sure we’re delivering great service for our customers.”

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