A new report from the Lending Standards Board (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 emphasised how inspiring it is 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.

However, Lovell highlighted that more needs to be done:

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.

Emma Lovell, Chief Executive of the Lending Standards Board

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.

This Deaf Awareness Week, employers and organisations across all sectors should look to follow suit, and ensure they reflect on the inclusivity and accessibility of their workplaces for deaf employees and customers. This week is an important reminder of our responsibility to ensure that our work environments support everyone’s needs. The progress made within the financial services sector illustrates significant strides toward greater accessibility but also underscores the continuous need for improvement.

Editor at Workplace Wellbeing Professional | Website | + posts

Joanne is the editor for Workplace Wellbeing Professional and has a keen interest in promoting the safety and wellbeing of the global workforce. After earning a bachelor's degree in English literature and media studies, she taught English in China and Vietnam for two years. Before joining Work Well Pro, Joanne worked as a marketing coordinator for luxury property, where her responsibilities included blog writing, photography, and video creation.