Laura Richards talks about Mental Health Awareness Week and how important it is for employers to adopt an inclusive and supportive culture.
Deaf Awareness Week is 6 – 12 May and aims to raise awareness and the challenges of deafness and hearing loss faced by 1 in 6 people in the UK. At Ryder, we’re celebrating our own deaf role model – Grant Richardson.
I joined Ryder in 2017 as a senior architectural technologist and have over 30 years of industry experience. A little known fact for those who don’t know me personally, is that I have been profoundly deaf from birth. For many years, I looked upon Ryder as a prestigious practice that I would love to have worked for, so now I’m here, I’m thoroughly happy. And, while other practices have been very welcoming, Ryder is the first to make positive moves to accommodate my deafness.
All people at Ryder have been given the opportunity to take part in training to learn sign language, something which has been of huge benefit to me and the people I work with. I’m now so much more engaged in my whole working environment.
It hasn’t always been smooth sailing though. Once I finished school and began thinking about my A Levels, I chose subjects with visual elements, including mathematics and geometrical and engineering drawing. My engineering teacher had previously worked in the industry and was particularly encouraging of my work, which eventually enabled me to channel my strengths into architecture.
Management has proven difficult for me and means I must concentrate to keep up with the rapid advancements in technology – I must work harder to enhance what I have to offer. I’m lucky that Ryder has already helped me in this respect too, with in house training in Revit and BIM. My next aim is to increase my time spent on site, moving with projects through its development to completion to improve my communication with clients.
In some ways, people must ‘think themselves into a deaf situation’, as it’s often difficult to express. I know how easy it can be for people think I am aware of what is going on around me, but if they feel there is something I have missed, then a good way to get my attention is by a simple tap on the shoulder and to look at me speaking slowly and clearly, this enables me to lip read. From experience, it’s always better to mention the subject first or point to the subject matter so that I know what the conversation is going to be about.
I realise it is difficult for a hearing person to get into the habit of doing this and may take time, but it’s always better than taking the easy way out and giving up in embarrassment, likewise, the deaf person may also be tempted to give up for the same reasons – communication is a two way process!
Outside of work life, Grant is married with a teenage son and is also a proud owner of Daisy the cocker spaniel, who ironically, has the best hearing in the family! Grant has held a Newcastle United football season ticket since the 1970s, the days of SuperMac, and played competitive football for a local deaf team, even once trialling for England’s deaf football team as goalkeeper.
Grant’s tips on being deaf awareFind out more