Deaf Action exists to support the diversity of deaf people, including deaf users of British Sign Language (BSL), and those who are deafened, deafblind or hard of hearing. Its work is geared towards empowering all deaf people to achieve their potential and fully participate in society, with equality of rights, access and opportunity.
Deaf Action’s services remove barriers and equip deaf people with the essential skills they need to become digitally and financially empowered – wherever they are on their journey. Its clients experience multiple barriers to digital and financial inclusion.
With the support of Power Up 2.0, the Click & Connect project aims to help mainstream services adapt their provision to improve accessibility and inclusion. Their hope is that this will have a lasting effect beyond the life of the grant, and the service has the potential to inform provision for deaf communities across the UK.
In conversation with Deaf Action
What inspired you to apply for Power Up funding?
We were inspired to apply for Power Up funding to expand our digital skills service, Click & Connect, to deaf people. This service was formalised as a response to the Covid-19 pandemic. During lockdown, many of our services moved online, and we provided ad-hoc digital support to help people access these services. This experience highlighted the digital skills gap in the deaf community, however, we also saw an increased appetite for learning these essential skills to improve access to work, health and leisure. This led us to create our digital skills service. By increasing access to specialist advice and supporting the development of essential digital skills, we will improve the employability and financial wellbeing of deaf people.
What does the funding mean to your organisation?
This funding is hugely beneficial to Deaf Action, as we can provide an improved service to the deaf community. We have a mission to empower the deaf community to fulfil their potential and thrive. Our service removes barriers and equips deaf people with the essential skills they need to become digitally and financially empowered – wherever they are on their journey. This funding will help us to reach more people with consistent and reliable support in a way that also nurtures social inclusion and wellbeing. We have been able to grow our service, reaching more deaf people, including embedding our employability programmes into our Youth Service for 10-18 year olds.
How do you hope your project will help your local community?
Deaf people are 4x more likely to be unemployed than the general population. Our overall aim is to give Edinburgh’s deaf BSL users increased access and improved pathways to employability support with an emphasis on digital skills. In achieving this aim, we will offer short and long-term benefits to both individual beneficiaries and to wider stakeholders and society as a whole. The short-term benefits to the community include increased motivation to use digital, along with improved digital skills for work and life. Longer-term, we expect to see increased employability, wellbeing and financial health within the deaf community.
What’s the main thing you would like to get out of your involvement in the Power Up programme?
Our clients experience multiple barriers to digital and financial inclusion. Our service is designed to positively empower deaf people to overcome these challenges. The Power Up programme will catalyse a step change in our project, allowing us to reach more people with consistent and reliable support. Our clients are people who are not currently engaged with mainstream support services and who need specialist support to gain confidence, skills, knowledge and experience to move closer to the job market. Through this programme, we can help them achieve those goals.