Team members at Specsavers in Reading Broad Street are building their skills to support deaf customers.

Retail director Don Watts and optical assistant Tom Schroeder use British Sign Language to ensure that customers with hearing loss are receiving a thorough eye examination during their visit to the store.

Translating with BSL since 2002

Don said: ‘My mother has been profoundly deaf since birth, and although she is able to lip-read, I’ve been learning to sign since I was a teenager. When I started at Specsavers in 2002 I got in touch with the local Reading deaf community to visit us and they said that the extra help left them feeling that their examination had been more thorough.’

21-year old Tom began learning BSL in September of last year and is working towards his Level 1 accreditation. He said: ‘When I saw that Don was helping with sign language I thought it was a really great way to support our customers. We have a lot of linguists in my family and I’ve always been interested in various languages.’

Supporting our Customers

Both Don and Tom sign with approximately two or three customers on a weekly basis and Tom plans on starting Level 2 once the course finishes in August. Don said: ‘When Tom said he was interested in becoming an accredited BSL I was really keen to support him in any way we can. We are firm believers in supporting our staff with their personal development, whether that is becoming a Dementia Friend, doing the Autism training created by the Autism Society or something like BSL training. I think it’s amazing that Tom does this in his own time. It gives him the opportunity to develop his skills alongside benefitting our customers.’

Tom, who began at the store as an apprentice, is also currently studying his CERT3 to work towards becoming a dispensing optician.

All Reading Broad Street store information

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