Jade Gani Shortlisted for Global STEP Private Client Awards 2021

We are exceptionally proud to announce that our very own Head of Private Client, Jade Gani, has been shortlisted for ‘Young Practitioner of the Year’ at the global STEP Private Client Awards 2021; awards which are seen as the hallmark of quality within the Private Client industry and which celebrate excellence among the profession.

The awards saw hundreds of entrants from across the world, all of which underwent a rigorous judging process before being narrowed down to the shortlisted finalists. Judges are supported by an independent panel of experts comprising of internationally renowned practitioners in the wealth management arena.

The awards have been described by notable practitioners as:-

 “The very best in the private client industry – everyone appreciates that the entries are genuinely and fully scrutinised and independently and rigorously judged – worth winning in other words!” (Ceris Gardner TEP, Maurice Turnor Gardner LLP)

“The Oscars of our industry and the one all of us wish to win. Clients, staff and competitors all look to these awards as a measure of quality.” (Mark McMullen, Stonehage Fleming)

Whilst Jade specialises in complex Wills, Trusts, Tax, Estate Planning and Court of Protection work and has a fantastic relationship with her colleagues, Clients and 3rd parties alike, it was her unwavering charitable endeavours that formed the focus of her nomination. Most notably, together with Directors Duncan Thomson and Stephen Puri, Jade successfully launched The Wishing Will Foundation earlier this year, after two years of careful planning, cultivating local relationships and sheer hard work.

The Wishing Will Foundation is a Community Interest Company that prepares expertly drafted Wills in exchange for donations to local hospices and charities that support the most vulnerable members of our community. They are currently partnered with Thames Hospice, Ella’s, Christopher’s Smile and Citizen’s Advice Bracknell & District – with many more local charities registering their interest to become involved too. Jade commented:-

“The Wishing Will Foundation is a cause very close to my heart. It is important to me to support our wider community as much as possible – and the Wishing Will allows me to do that by using my expertise to its full advantage. It should also help us reduce the prevalence of Intestate Estates, meaning more certainty and peace of mind for our loved ones using the scheme. It also helps to spread the word about the amazing work undertaken every day by our partnered charities, who often rely on legacies in Wills to continue to provide their services.”

In respect of the STEP Private Client Award shortlisting, Jade added:-

“I am absolutely blown away to have become a finalist in such prestigious – and global – awards! They are the gold-standard of this line of work and the fact that my efforts to bring our community, local charities and solicitors together in a positive way is being recognised on such renowned stage is beyond my wildest expectations. I feel extremely grateful just to be shortlisted and hope that this will encourage other professionals to become equally involved in charitable community initiatives too.” 

This shortlisting follows on Jade’s win at the British Wills and Probate Awards 2020 for ‘Young Practitioner of the Year 2020’ and the firm’s win at the Probate Research Awards 2021 for ‘Best Community Contribution’. We are proud to say that Jade’s work ethic epitomises Aston Bond’s core values and we couldn’t be more excited to support and celebrate with her on 23 September at the virtual awards ceremony. Please join us in wishing her the very best of luck!

Stephen Puri, Aston Bond CEO commented:

“We are delighted for Jade. She continues to work hard and strive for the very best and this nomination is testament to her commitment to work and clients alike.”

New Appointment: SFE Regional Director

We are incredibly proud to confirm that our very own Head of Private Client, Jade Gani, is the newly appointed Regional Director (Berkshire) for Solicitors For the Elderly (“SFE”). 

SFE is a community of trusted advisers – professionally highly qualified and regulated and who also have additional skills to enable them to work with older and vulnerable clients. SFE speaks out in the press on behalf of their members about any proposed changes and developments which they believe will adversely affect older Clients. They also work hard behind the scenes with various governments, legal bodies, and other organisations to ensure their voice, and the voice of older people is heard.

SFE supports its members by providing them with expert training and best practice, keeping them up to date with any market developments, promoting them through their website and press coverage, helping them to help each other through their member’s advice forum as well as running national and regional events and keeping them up to date with the latest case law related to older clients.

Jade has shared her thoughts on her appointment:-

“I am very excited to join the formidable team at SFE and look forward to uniting, supporting, and developing our Berkshire members whilst also being a positive force for change for our most vulnerable Clients. It is a tremendous opportunity to better serve my colleagues in the profession as well as our wider community and it is a responsibility I take very seriously.

SFE is a wonderful, supportive organisation at the forefront of progressing the diverse needs of elderly or vulnerable clients. I am privileged and humbled to be asked to join their ranks.”    

Please join us in wishing Jade every success in this new role – we look forward to seeing all the incredible work that will undoubtedly follow this appointment.

Double Win at the UK Probate Research Awards 2021

We are delighted to announce that last week Aston Bond was recognised as the winner in not one, but two, categories at the Probate Research Awards 2021.  The awards included the team at Aston Bond taking home the ‘Community Contribution’ award, and also Ilinca Mardarescu, our Director and head of Employment, winning the ‘Unsung Hero’ award, with Rachel Jones, our Trainee Solicitor, also being ‘Highly Commended’ for this award.  

Community Contribution Award

This award recognises an organisation that made a considerable and special contribution to the community.

The team at Aston Bond pride themselves on giving back to the local community wherever possible, from charity walks, events and talks to regularly volunteering to assist young students with their careers, and we are humbled to have been recognised through this award.

In addition to this, the Private Client team at Aston Bond, have been charitably offering free Wills to NHS and Thames Hospice employees in recognition of the exceptional challenges that they have faced during the pandemic.   This award also recognises the efforts of our Head of department, Jade Gani, and the directors of Aston Bond, Duncan Thomson and Stephen Puri, in establishing and launching the Wishing Will Foundation CIC, an organisation with charitable motives where all legal fees are instead donated to associated local charities.

Unsung Hero Award

This award celebrates the people in a firm who may not usually be recognised but play a vital role to the success of the team.

Aston Bond is very proud that its very own, Ilinca Mardarescu, has won this award which is so thoroughly well deserved.  Ilinca undertakes many roles within Aston Bond beyond her specific job title, being events organiser, HR manager, and most importantly, invoking the very core of the team spirit in Aston Bond.  

We are also proud that our Trainee Solicitor, Rachel Jones, was also recognised through this award as ‘Highly Commended’.  Rachel has shown consistent support to the Private Client department, as well as to the firm generally in assisting with the postal system and telephone lines, to ensure the firm continued to operate smoothly despite the challenges that the pandemic brought over the last year.

The benefits of using an SFE Accredited Lawyer to get your affairs in order

Solicitors for the Elderly (“SFE”) is a national organisation consisting of a select group of members who are qualified, regulated and insured Solicitors, Barristers or Chartered Legal Executives.  These members must specialise in law assisting older and vulnerable clients, and must have substantial experience of providing expert level advice to such clients.  The members receive expert training and are kept up to date by SFE with the latest case law for their older and more vulnerable clients.

With our own Head of Private Client Department, Jade Gani, recently qualifying as an SFE Full Accredited lawyer, we list 10 reasons as to why you should use an SFE accredited lawyer like Jade to get your affairs in order:-

SFE members:

  1. Know their stuff

As an SFE accredited lawyer, Jade is a qualified solicitor who has specialised in providing legal advice to older or vulnerable people and their family and carers, and therefore has an expansive knowledge of her legal area.

  1. Have years of experience

An SFE lawyer, Jade has been training and focusing on this area of law for many years, and therefore has built up substantial expertise and connections to ensure you receive an all-encompassing service.

  1. Are independently accredited

As well as successfully completing all areas to qualify as an accredited member of SFE, Jade has also completed additional training in older client law to qualify for the independently accredited Older Client Care in Practice Award.

  1. Follow a strict code of conduct

SFE lawyers like Jade are regulated by a strict code of conduct that centres on respect and dignity for their clients.  They understand the level of service required to meet the needs of older and more vulnerable clients, and how these may differ from others in society.

  1. Speak in a language you understand

SFE lawyers like Jade understand that there can be a lot of legal jargon in their profession and that this can be confusing to understand.  She therefore communicates in clear and straightforward language so that you can be confident that you understand any advice or documents you are provided with.

  1. Are part of a community of experts

SFE is an organisation that has created a community among the highest specialists in older client law.  With a community of over 1,500 members, no matter how complex or sensitive your case, you can be sure that you will receive the best possible legal advice on all areas.

  1. Safeguard your interests

An SFE lawyer, such as Jade, understands your interests and will focus on ensuring you receive advice that is of the highest quality and tailored to your specific needs whilst still being affordable.

  1. Understand the bigger picture

There are often wider and sensitive issues surrounding the health, care and family advice that you may be seeking, and an SFE lawyer like Jade will understand this and be able to apply the advice to the bigger picture and how this may affect your plans for later life.

  1. Offer the best possible care and support

SFE lawyers, such as Jade, have chosen to specialise in older client law in particular as they care about the more vulnerable members of our society, and helping provide them with support that is tailored to their individual needs and circumstances.

  1. Get you the best possible outcome

Ultimately, by choosing an SFE lawyer like Jade you can be confident that you will be guided and supported through a complex and sensitive area of law with the highest level of expertise, and you can be sure that the advice you receive will help protect both and also your loves ones both now and in your later life.

If you would like to speak with Jade about your Private Client Law needs then please do not hesitate to contact her on 01753486777

Jade Gani Joins SFE As A Full Accredited Member

Aston Bond is delighted to announce that the Head of our Private Client department, Jade Gani, has successfully completed the Solicitors for the Elderly (SFE) Older Client care in Practice [“OCCP”] and Older Client Law in Practice [“OCLP”] Awards. This, therefore, means that she joins SFE as a Full Accredited Member, in recognition of her expertise in advising and supporting older and more vulnerable clients.

SFE is a national organisation consisting of a select group of members who are qualified, regulated and insured Solicitors, Barristers or Chartered Legal Executives. These members must specialise in law assisting older and vulnerable clients, and must have substantial experience of providing expert level advice to such clients. SFE continues to support its members by providing expect training and ensuring they are up to date with the latest case law for their older clients.

The Private Client department is excited to continue to grow and develop throughout the upcoming years under Jade’s leadership, and this wouldn’t be possible without the specialist knowledge that Jade brings to the department ensuring all client advice is of the highest standard. Following on from her impressive ‘Young Practitioner of the Year’ win at the British Wills & Probate Awards 2020, we are in no doubt that this is just the start for Jade and there will be much more to come.

More about Jade:

Jade has been the proud Head of the Private Client department at Aston Bond Law Firm since April 2017. Under her careful watch and continued nurturing, the department has flourished; growing year on year, with no signs of slowly down.

With a passion for all that she does, Jade’s mission has been to ensure she is the go-to person for anyone struggling with grief, wanting to proactively tax plan or those vulnerable individuals requiring a touch of extra TLC. She prides herself on being able to connect with her Clients on a personal level, whilst always being able to provide expert, professional advice in simple terms. In particular, Jade suffers from her own invisible illnesses and uses her experiences to adapt and truly empathise with other vulnerable individuals; always being patient and adopting a variety of helpful, unique and inventive ways to capture clear instructions, often in very difficult circumstances. Her dedication to her field and exceptional work meant she was crowned the Young Practitioner of the Year at the British Wills & Probate Awards 2020.

As the landscape of Private Client is constantly changing, Jade continues to study and in addition to being a Full Accredited Member of SFE is also currently an Associate Member of STEP; this helps to ensure she has the advanced knowledge and up to date information required to provide exceptional advice to her clients.

If you would like to speak with Jade in relation to getting your personal affairs in order, then please do not hesitate to contact her on 01753486777 or jgani@astonbond.co.uk.

Deadline Looms For Power Of Attorney Claims: 31st January 2021

Did you pay the Office of the Public Guardian to register a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPAs) in England & Wales between 1st April 2013 and 31st March 2017?  If yes, then you may be due a refund of up to £54.00, however you will need to be quick as the deadline to claim the refund is the 31st January 2021.

The Ministry of Justice has announced that the fees for registering LPAs were overcharged at a cost of £110.00 between 1 April 2013 and 31 March 2017, whereas the actual cost should have only been £82.00 due to the operating fees having dropped.  Therefore any applicants who paid the higher fee are now due a refund of the difference between the amount paid and the amount they should have paid, plus interest.

Who can Claim

There are two types of LPAs, one for Property and Financial Affairs and one for Health & Welfare, and if you made both types then you may be able to claim the refund on each LPA, meaning a total refund of up to £108.00 may be claimed for couples.  However, you should only need to make one claim for both Lasting Powers of Attorney made by each donor.

The refund can be claimed by the person who made the LPAs (the donor) or the people who were appointed as attorneys in the LPAs, however, any refund due will be paid directly to the donor.

You can also make a claim if you paid to register an Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA) between the above dates, as although EPA’s are unable to be made after the 1st October 2007 it is possible that they may have been registered at a later date between the 1st April 2013 and 31st March 2017.

How to Claim

The refund can be claimed online, or you can call the Office of the Public Guardian on 0300 456 0300 (and then select option 6).  You will need the following information to make a claim:

  1. The donor’s full name, address and date of birth;
  2. The donor’s bank account number and sort code (for the refund to be paid to).  If the donor does not have a bank account, or you are acting as their deputy, then the claim will need to be made via phone;
  3. Names of the attorneys appointed on the LPA.

If the donor has died since making the Lasting Powers of Attorney, you may still be able to make a claim for any overpaid registration fee, however you will need to apply via email to poarefunds@justice.gsi.gov.uk or by post to POA Refunds Team, 7th Floor, Office of the Public Guardian, PO Box 16185, Birmingham, B2 2WH.  You will need to send them a copy of the death certificate and the Will, or a grant of representation, along with your contact details.

If you would like further information in relation to LPAs then please do not hesitate to contact call us on 01753 486777.

The Ownership of Property & Declarations of Trust

There are three main ways in which you can own property in the UK;-

  1. In your sole name;
  2. In your joint names as Joint Tenants; and
  3. In your joint names at Tenants in Common.

Sole Name

Holding property in your sole name means that you own the legal title to the whole of the property alone.

Joint Tenants

When you own a property with another person(s) as Joint Tenants, all of the legal proprietors have equal rights to the whole of the property.  This affects how the property will pass on your death, as rather than passing in accordance with the terms of your Will, your property would instead pass via survivorship to any remaining joint proprietor who survived you.

Tenants in Common

When you own a property with another person(s) as Tenants in Common, you each hold your shares in the property separately, and by default, these shares are presumed to be equal.  As the interests in the property are held separately, this means that if one proprietor faced debt proceedings etc., only their specific share of the property may be included as one of their assets.  Holding a property as Tenants in Common also means that when one of the proprietors die their share will pass according to the terms of their Will, rather than to the other proprietors automatically.

What is a Declaration of Trust?

A Declaration of Trust is a legally binding deed that sets out how you own your property with another person(s), and this can include people who are not registered as an owner at the Land Registry.  These deeds can be made at any time whilst you own the property.  

Declarations of Trust can be made in relation to any properties that you own either in your sole name or with another person(s) as Tenants in Common.  However as they determine the beneficial interest each party has in the property, these deeds cannot be set up for properties that are held in joint names as Joint Tenants.  Therefore, the Joint Tenancy would need to be severed in order for a Declaration of Trust to work.  However this is not a complicated procedure and is currently free of charge to register with the HM Land Registry.

Why would I need a Declaration of Trust?

A Declaration of Trust may be required in any situation where you do not wish for each proprietor to have equal interests in the property.  For example, it may be that one party contributed more to the initial deposit price, or that one party does more of the maintenance involved with a rental property etc., and therefore you would like to alter the share so that the respective proprietor has a higher interest in the property to reflect this.  

It may also be required where one proprietor is a higher rate tax payer and the other a basic rate tax payer, and therefore you may wish for the income received from a rental property to be apportioned in a tax efficient manner.  It is important to note that entering into a Declaration of Trust for Income Tax purposes will need to be reported to the HMRC.

It is also possible to prepare a Declaration of Trust in a property that you own in your sole name and this may be required, for example, where a family member has financially assisted you with the purchase of your property and you would like to ensure they receive their funds back when the property is later sold.  By preparing a Declaration of Trust, this party is therefore entitled to a beneficial interest in the property despite not being on the legal title itself.  

It is recommended that for all properties where a Declaration of Trust is created, but particularly those created for properties owned by a sole proprietor, that a restriction is entered onto the title at the Land Registry.

Other Considerations

It is important to consider that when creating a Declaration of Trust, one party is sometimes gifting their interest in the property to another.  They should therefore be aware of the risk that they are reducing their assets and may no longer be entitled to as much of the property as they were before, and therefore this may have an implication on unfortunate future events, such as divorce etc.  

It is also often necessary to seek tax advice from an Accountant in relation to any tax implications the Declaration of Trust may impose on each party.

If you would like more information on Declarations of Trust, or to book an appointment for a free initial consultation with one of our solicitors to discuss these deeds further, then please do not hesitate to contact Jade Gani (jgani@astonbond.co.uk), Rachel Jones (rjones@astonbond.co.uk) or Mamta Rajanwal (mrajanwal@astonbond.co.uk).

Helping those with Vision Impairment create a Will

Making a Will is often considered a particularly daunting task for many of us; however having sight impairment can make this even more so.   A Will is one of the most important documents that you may make in your lifetime, and therefore not being able to see the document you are signing clearly, or at all, can cause anxiety.   However with a few amendments to the process, making a Will can be a simple and stress-free process for all.  Below we will discuss some areas that can be adapted during the Will writing process, to ensure an inclusive and comfortable service is available for all clients. 

Formatting the Will

For any documents sent to clients with vision loss, altering the formatting appropriately to suit each client’s needs can radically help to improve their comfort and their ability to read the documents clearly.

Below are some general tips on formatting documents:-

  • Always check with your client if they would like the font to be a larger size, as most clients will have a preferred font size.  You should never just assume a larger font size will be required; as the client may already have assistance (such as a magnifying glass) meaning the larger font may actually encumber rather than assist them.
  • Be aware that visually impaired clients may have difficulty distinguishing between the numbers 3, 5, 8 and 0 (three, five, eight, and zero) and it is best practice for all numbers to be spelt out so that they can be read clearly.
  • Avoid stylised fonts, underlining, italics and large blocks of capital letters as these can be harder to read.  
  • Increase the line spacing where possible to help separate the text and make it easier to read, and try to avoid long paragraphs.
  • Coloured or glossy paper should be avoided, and photocopies should be clear on matt bleedproof paper.  Where possible documents should be printed one sided, so that there is no confusion from words coming through on the opposite side.  Some clients may experience visual perceptual distortions and so it is best practice to ask if they have a particular type of paper that assists them. 

Alternative Formats

Although a Will in braille is not a valid legal document as it can be easily altered, providing a copy of the Will in braille allows the client to read through the copy independently to confirm that they are happy with the original.  Similarly an audio copy of the Will could be a useful alternative format to provide to the client, so that they can listen to the Will being read out at their own speed and as many times as they require.

The charity, Royal National Institute of Blind People, are able to assist in converting documents to braille and audio.  To find out more please contact their transcription service on Business.Mailbox@rnib.org.uk.

Signing the Will

It is very important that your client is able to confirm they are happy with the contents of the Will before they sign the document.  Therefore if the client is unable read the Will (including where they have approved the copy Will in braille), it should be read to the client out loud by one of the witnesses at a clear and steady pace.  The Will can then be signed by the witness on the testator’s behalf which will need to be stated in the attestation clause accordingly, alongside a statement that the Will has been signed ‘after this document has been read over by [name of witness] to the Testator (who is blind) when the Testator seemed thoroughly to understand and approve the contents’. 

At Aston Bond we like to make sure that creating a Will is accessible for all by adapting the above practices into our services, to ensure that those with sight impairment are comfortable and understand the process from start to finish.  If you, or someone you know, are hesitant to make your Will due to sight impairment then please know that we are here to help and do not hesitate to contact us on 01753 486777. 

Assisting those with vision impairment in the office

Nearly two million people in the UK are currently living with sight loss, and by 2050 this number is expected to have more than doubled, with statistics showing 250 people begin to lose their sight every day.  The importance of looking after our eye health is particularly relevant due to it being National Eye Health Week (21-27 September 2020), and as businesses, it is also equally important that we are offering services accessible to all, including those with vision impairment.  Therefore in this article we will discuss how services can be adapted to ensure your business is well equipped to meet your client’s needs.

Before the client appointment

When booking clients in for appointments, it is best practice to ask your clients whether they have any special requirements that they will need in place for their meeting.  It is important to note that it may not be easy to identify if your client has sight loss when they arrive at your office, and therefore being prepared can help put your clients at ease and feel comfortable from the outset.  Look out for clients wearing the sunflower lanyard to show that they may require greater assistance.

Find out how your clients will be arriving and offer any necessary assistance in accessing your office, such as through providing clear instructions on your location and meeting clients at the door to guide them to their meeting room.   Check whether your clients is bringing any assistance to their meeting, such as a relative or guide dog, so that you can prepare your meeting accordingly through arranging extra seating or providing a water bowl for guide dogs etc.

Where possible, you should always offer a home visit for clients with vision impairment, as they may feel more comfortable in a known environment for their meeting.  

Preparing client documentation

Those with sight loss may find it difficult to read documents in the standard format, and it is therefore also important that you check with your clients beforehand as to whether they have any preferences, such as a larger font size, braille, or electronically as they may wish to transfer text to speech.   Inserting the  sentence ‘End of Document’ should be included at the end of all documents, so that the client can be sure there is nothing further to read.

When the client arrives

When assisting a client to their meeting room you should always ask which side they would prefer you approach them on.  Do not just assume a client with sight loss will automatically require guidance, as those with canes or guide dogs may prefer to navigate themselves, and you should therefore always ask the client whether they require assistance first.  

If the client does wish for you to guide them, place your guiding arm in a relaxed position at a right angle to your rib cage, allowing the client to cup your elbow and follow behind you.  Alternatively clients may wish to put their hand on your shoulder instead. 

You should walk at a normal pace, noting any uneven surfaces and any doors or steps etc.  When approaching stairs, place the clients hand on the handrail and let them know when they are at the start and finish of the steps.  Let the client know whether the steps are going up or down, and if there are any breaks in the handrail/steps then ask your client whether they would like your arm again for these sections.


Surprisingly only 7% of our communication is purely verbal, and it is therefore very important that we are able to communicate effectively with those that may not be able to clearly see other communication, such as facial expressions etc.  The following tips can help when communicating:-

  • When approaching a client you should always let them know who you are.  If you offer your hand, verbalise your movements so that they can be clear you wish to share hands such as ‘Hi, my name’s Rachel, I am just offering you my right hand for a handshake’. 
  • You should always face your client, and if others are present, make sure your voice is still directed toward the client rather than straying towards others that are sighted.  This is to ensure that the client does not feel excluded from the meeting even when others have spoken.
  • If you and other colleagues are all present during the meeting, you should each say your name before speaking on every occasion so that the client does not become confused.
  • Let the client know if you are leaving the room, and also announce when you return. 
  • Verbalise your actions so that the client knows what you are doing, for example when you pause to take notes.
  • Never distract any guide dogs, and always ask the owner’s permission before petting.


With the pandemic ongoing, many may be left unsure as to whether they can still assist clients in the manners detailed above, particular in relation to guiding.   Government guidance has recently confirmed that partially sighted people in England can still be guided by people outside of their household.  However to limit risks it is best practice that both you and the client wear masks, hand sanitise before, during and after guiding and try to limit the amount of time spent within 2m of each other.  You should also ensure you have the name and contact number of anyone you have guided so that you can contact them should they need to be traced.

Further Reading

We hope that the above information will help your business take steps to ensure the best service is provided to all clients, if not in practice already.  If you would like to find out more information on how your business can support clients with vision impairment,please see the charity Royal National Institute of Blind People via the following link https://www.rnib.org.uk/services-for-businesses/supporting-blind-and-partially-sighted-customers

Assisting Those with Hearing Impairment at the Office

In the UK there are currently around 12 million people (1 in 6) suffering from hearing loss, and with an ageing population this is predicted to rise to 14.2 million by 2035 (1 in 5).   As many as 40% of people over 50 years old have hearing loss, and this rises to reach an alarming rate of over 70% for those over the age of 70.   Not being able to hear clearly, or at all, can lead to those with hearing impairments withdrawing from both social and everyday situations, creating an isolated bubble which can often result in issues such as loneliness and depression.  With research showing 80% of people find a lack of deaf awareness by corporations to be their main barrier to services, it is important that we all take steps to adapt our practices wherever possible to offer a service that is accessible to all, and thereby helping combat these issues.

Inductive Loops for Hearing Aids

There are many ways in which steps can be taken to help make the office more deaf aware for our clients, such as by installing an induction loop in client facing areas like reception and meeting rooms.  An induction loop helps to improve the clients listening environment by submitting a signal to the hearing aid which removes background noise and distraction.  There are two main types of induction loops; a Counter Loop which is installed permanently in areas that are consistently busy and noisy (such as your reception area), and Portable Loops which are lightweight and easy to use and are particularly suited to small group conversations where the participants are sitting within 1 metre of each other (such as for use in your meeting rooms).

Staff Training

With over 70% of those with hearing aids choosing services where staff are deaf aware, arguably the most important step which a corporation can take is to train staff so that they can communicate effectively with clients.  Examples of effective communication include the following:

  • Finding a light room that is away from any noise or distractions so that your client can understand you as clearly as possible.
  • Even where a client utilises hearing aids, always ask first if they would prefer to lip read you.  
  • Face towards the person you are talking to, and use simple gestures to attract their attention such as pointing or waving.
  • Speak clearly, using normal lip movements, facial expressions and gestures, and avoid shouting or speaking too slowly or quickly.
  • Keep your speech concise by using plain language and avoiding any waffle, and make sure the client understands what you are saying.  If they do not, repeat what you have said or rephrase your sentence clearly.
  • Be aware that due to the pandemic, the wearing of facemasks may make communication particularly difficult for those relying on lip reading and facial expressions.  Writing things down and using simple gestures can help.

Action on Hearing Loss, the UK’s largest charity helping those with hearing impairments, offers various staff training workshops and more information can be found here https://www.actiononhearingloss.org.uk/how-we-help/businesses-and-employers/.  Staff should also look out for clients wearing the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower lanyard to help identify those that may need greater assistance.   

British Sign Language

In addition to the above communication training, you may also consider training your staff to use British Sign Language via local courses, or through Action on Hearing Loss’ programme ‘Louder than Words’ https://louderthanwords.org.uk/british-sign-language-bsl-training/.  Alternatively a BSL regulated interpreter can be arranged to be present at your client’s meeting to translate, and this can also be booked through Action on Hearing Loss.

As clients suffering from a hearing impairment are much more likely to enquire about your services online, rather than by phone, it is helpful for them if you clearly state on your website any action that you may have taken to ensure your company is deaf aware.   If you would like to find out more information on hearing loss and how you can adapt your services to better accommodate clients, then please see the charity Action on Hearing Loss.