Posted: 09.07.21 at 16:05 by Jessica Broadbent
A Richmond mortgage expert is using his knowledge of sign language to help bring down language barriers for deaf people accessing financial advice.
Matt Butler has joined the team at Greenacre Financial Services, a round-the-clock mortgage broker service, as a Mortgage Administrator.
Growing up with two deaf parents meant that Matt and his three older siblings have been able to sign for as long as they have been able to speak.
He said: “My parents are deaf so I have been brought up with it all my life and so naturally learnt it as I grew up.”
He said learning the language wasn’t much of a challenge: “It’s all I have ever known. I also have three older siblings so I think this helped with the whole process as I had them to teach me as well as my parents.
“In terms of qualifications, there are plenty of courses around but due to my family and my upbringing it isn’t something that I have ever needed to do.”
According to the British Deaf Association, the total number of British Sign Language users in the UK is 151,000 and of that, 87,000 are Deaf. There’s an estimated 11 million people in the UK who are deaf or hard of hearing.
Matt and his family use sign language in every day life, but now he is using it to provide a service to the community through his work too.
He said: “Having used it at home I would now like to implement it into my work life and try to help as many deaf people as I can who may have any mortgage queries.
“Although it isn’t necessary for the job because we can do so much over email, it is important to make sure that we are accessible for anyone.
“It is a great attribute to have as it would help to make deaf people feel confident and comfortable in knowing that they can communicate with someone face to face if this is what they desire.
“At least this way they are not just restricted to talking to someone through a screen in which they have never met physically. All of this would help to build a good trust and relationship as they would feel more at ease.”
Greg Stanworth, Greenacre Financial Services Owner and Founder, said: “I'm really pleased to have Matt on board.
“It's really important for me that we as a company are as inclusive and accessible as possible.
“Deaf people may feel that the financial world is a daunting place because they don't have somebody that they can have a conversation with. I think sometimes those of us who can hear take being able to communicate via speech for granted.
“Now we have the option to help people who are deaf or hard of hearing; they have somebody who can make them feel comfortable and that they can have a conversation with.
“We’re open 24-7, but we realised we weren’t open to everybody out there 24-7. Having Matt means we can be open to even more people so I'm really, really proud to have him on board.
“I really want people to know that we have that ability to be able to help people who are hard of hearing or deaf.”
And what would Matt say to someone who is nervous about finding financial advice because they are deaf?
“I would simply say to not be nervous. I am here to help and put them at ease, even if it is just some simple questions they have in order to start this process.
“I believe a conversation would help massively with this as they can go away knowing they’ve got all the answers they need as opposed to maybe being left in the dark due to this language barrier.”
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