Progress made by UK financial services sector in offering better accessibility support to deaf customers, report finds

London, May 7, 2024: A new report from the LSB shows the progress made by UK banks and lenders over the last 12 months in offering better accessibility support to deaf customers, one year from the launch of the LSB’s 2023 Access for d/Deaf Customers in Banking & Credit research.

In the UK, one in five adults are deaf, have hearing loss, or tinnitus. Hearing loss affects more than 40% of people over 50 years old and 70% of people over 70. The LSB’s 2023 research and accompanying report highlighted the challenges deaf people face when accessing financial services.

The LSB’s latest report coincides with UK Deaf Awareness Week (6-12 May), and includes research, carried out in conjunction with SigningBanks.UK, a new website, launched today, designed to enhance the experience of deaf people when engaging with banks and lenders. The report reveals that, among the LSB’s registered firms, progress has been made in almost all of the seven key deaf accessibility services highlighted last year. Particular improvements have been seen in:

  • The availability of remote-access British Sign Language (BSL), which is now offered by 73% of surveyed registered firms, up from 55% in 2023
  • Access to lip speaker services increasing from being available at 36% of surveyed registered firms to 45%
  • The availability of note takers, rising from being offered at just 9% of surveyed registered firms in 2023 to 45% in 2024
  • Enhancements to firms’ digital services, with online BSL translation available through 18% of surveyed registered firms in 2024, up from 9% in 2023.

Emma Lovell, Chief Executive of the Lending Standards Board said: “With around 12 million people in the UK experiencing hearing loss, it’s encouraging to see progress being made across the financial services sector to break down the barriers that many deaf people face when dealing with their banks and lenders. Our report put the experiences of deaf people front-and-centre, and it’s inspiring to see their lived experience make a difference in the sector.

“While it’s positive that new services are being introduced, there is still further to go and some accessibility services remain far from universal. Even when new services are introduced, it’s crucial that financial services firms’ team members are aware of these services and are equipped to support customers to use them. We hope to see the positive momentum from the last 12 months continue, with firms actively raising industry standards and contributing to an inclusive financial services sector for the deaf community.”

The progress highlighted in the LSB’s report can also be seen in the wider sector, with additional data from SigningBanks.UK showing improvements made by firms in the last six months alone. BSL availability – both in-person and digitally – has improved, with 70% of SigningBanks’ partners now offering BSL interpreters by request (up from 60% in December 2023). Further progress is also underway, with 93% of SigningBanks’ partners planning to offer digital BSL through telephony in the next few months.

Read the report here.

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