We explored the needs of D/deaf people accessing services at Bolton Deaf Society, Manchester Deaf Centre and Walthew House.

Several factors drove the need for the research including the recent closure of other local D/deaf support organisations, the increase in virtual communication calling into question the need for a physical space (due to the impact of Covid-19), and a lack of recent research into the needs of D/deaf people.

In particular, our research sought to answer the following questions:

  • What are the needs of the D/deaf community? Does the evidence identify variations in support needs between D/deaf groups? Have needs changed since Covid-19?
  • How does Bolton Deaf Society, Manchester Deaf Centre and Walthew House currently meet the needs of the D/deaf community?
  • What are the costs of not supporting the D/deaf community?

We approached this research by carrying out:

  • An extensive literature review of existing data, research and evidence on the D/deaf population in each location, as well as their experiences and needs.
  • An online survey of people who are Deaf, deafened or hard of hearing, and living or accessing services in each location. The survey was translated in British Sign Language, and paper copies were also available at each centre, and staff were available to help respondents complete it.
  • An analysis of the organisations’ Social Return on Investment (SROI).
  • The client organisations also carried out focus groups with their service users. We analysed these discussions and included the findings in our final report.

Nearly 200 D/deaf people responded to the survey, which exceeded the clients’ expectations. The research is being used as evidence in funding bids. It also revealed gaps in the organisations’ Customer Relationship Management (CRM) data, which they found useful knowledge, and are working to improve.