A pioneering healthcare communications enterprise, run mainly by deaf people, has opened new UK headquarters in Barnsley.
Health Deafinitions is a not-for-profit organisation which designs and produces DVDs and videos to explain health conditions, medical terms, routine tests and surgical procedures to deaf people.
It also provides training and consultancy services to health and well-being service providers.
Its re-location has been supported by Enterprising Barnsley, a European-funded programme delivered by Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council.
And, the move has been supported through the Regional Growth Fund.
Deafinition’s move means that, for the first time, the organisation has its own film-making and design studios, office space, storage, training and meeting facilities all under one roof.
And, there is plenty of room to grow within the 130,000 square foot property.
Managing director Gohar Nisar said the move to Barnsley is part of a long term strategy for growth:
“We aim to be a flagship for better methods of communication with deaf people in the NHS and across all health and social care providers.
“Our new headquarters means we now have the studio facilities in-house to step up production of our DVDs and videos which incorporate British Sign Language, 3D animation and graphics.
“And we have the office and meeting space we need to develop services and establish ourselves as pioneers – with our ambition to totally transform the health care experience of deaf people both regionally and nationally.”
Deafinitions is now inviting local and national NHS organisations, local authorities, GPs and other health professionals to an open day next month to see what they do and what products and services they offer.
Gohar, who is deaf, said:
“We would like people to come along and find out more about us and what we are doing here.
“We are a deaf-led and deaf-run organisation which seeks to empower deaf people both through our services – and also through employment opportunities.”
Deafinitions employs 25 people – 21 of whom are deaf.
It has created 14 new jobs in research, design, production and administration over the last six months with some employees moving from West Yorkshire and others recruited locally in the Dearne Valley.
“Our products are made by deaf people for deaf people.
“We are determined to tackle the complex factors which mean many deaf people lack the confidence and knowledge they need to understand and manage their own health and access health services effectively – we aim to offer ground-breaking solutions.”
Many deaf people struggle to read written English well, as they do not use spoken English, so NHS leaflets and internet sources can be confusing and unhelpful.
General knowledge of health terms and vocabulary can also be very low amongst the deaf community – for example research showed less than five in 2,000 deaf people understood the written word ‘artery’.
Deafinitions is the only UK organisation accredited to produce sign language resources since gaining the government’s ‘Information Standard’ quality mark in 2010.
Deafinitions is currently working on a “visual glossary” of DVDs and online video resources to define and explain parts of the body and body systems; parts of the NHS and how it works; procedures such as blood tests and ECGs (electrocardiograms); and conditions such as cardio-vascular disease, diabetes and mental health issues.
In future, it plans to extend its deaf-awareness training for doctors and health professionals; seek commissions from NHS organisations; and develop a ‘video call centre’ for deaf people with health concerns.
Enterprising Barnsley business development manager Shaun Higginbottom said:
“Over 300,000 people in the UK use British Sign Language as their main method of communication and, after seven years of extensive research and consultation, Health Deafinitions is now set to revolutionise their experience and offer products and services that empower them to take control of their own health.
“We are delighted to support an organisation of such specialist expertise and national significance based here in Barnsley.”
“We have received an excellent welcome in Barnsley and the support from Enterprising Barnsley business coaches has really helped us improve our business strategy, marketing and online presence.”