Supporting Deaf prisoners

The Royal Association for Deaf people (RAD) was delighted to present the first Deaf-Aware Prison Quality Mark to HMP Whatton. This quality mark has been designed and developed to support the wider work of prisons and offender management services.

As part of RAD’s expanding partnerships, we are working with Public Sector Prisons to raise awareness of the needs of Deaf prisoners. This collaborative work is to ensure that a Deaf prisoner’s experience in prison is equitable to that of all prisoners yet not more favourable.

Reports have shown it can be difficult for Deaf prisoners to access rehabilitative services, such as Offending Behaviour Programmes (OBP), education and employment skills training. Prisoners who are Deaf are often much more vulnerable, isolated and susceptible to developing mental health issues while in prison in comparison to their hearing peers. We are working with prison establishments with the aim to increase access supporting rehabilitation and furthermore reduction in reoffending. The increased awareness not only supports Deaf prisoners but the prison services as a whole promoting inclusion for everyone within the prison including staff and visitors.

HMP Whatton is a National Treatment site delivering adapted programmes for Deaf prisoners and has been fundamental in the development and pilot stage of RAD’s new Deaf- Aware Prison Quality Mark.

HMP Whatton’s Governor Lynn Saunders said:

Whatton has, since 2014 run specialist offending behaviour programmes for Deaf men. We have learned a great deal about the needs of Deaf prisoners in our care since then. The accreditation process has been both interesting and challenging and we are grateful for the insight and support from the RAD to help us to further develop our services and support. We are delighted to be the first prison to receive the RAD Deaf-Aware Quality Mark and this is further recognition of our commitment to provide equality of access to services and support to all of the people in our care…’’

HMP Gartree is also in the process of becoming a Deaf-Aware Awarded Prison.

Dr Jan Sheldon Chief Executive, Royal Association for Deaf people says:

We are delighted to award the first Deaf-Aware Quality Mark for prisons to HMP Whatton. The team at HMP Whatton have worked hard to ensure that staff supporting prisoners are Deaf aware and that Deaf prisoners receive accessible services. HMP Whatton demonstrates that they provide equality for Deaf prisoners; we hope further prisons will follow their lead’. 

In addition to providing services for deaf people in their first language, we are committed to helping mainstream services to become more accessible to the Deaf Community.