Increasing the Participation of Deaf Members

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2013 National Disabled Members' Conference
1 July 2013

Conference recognises and commends the work that the National Disabled Members Committee has undertaken with regards to Deaf issues

However, Conference is concerned that, because of cultural and linguistic issues, prejudice and the workplace environment – it can be more difficult for Deaf members to participate in UNISON’s branch, regional and national democratic processes or to take up roles such as steward, health and safety officer, convenor, branch secretary and so on.

Conference believes that UNISON’s Deaf members should be encouraged to be active at branch, regional and national levels and to participate in the wider union structure subject to Rule C2, which defines the rights and benefits of each category of member. Conference believes that, were this to be achieved, it would make the union more attractive to Deaf members and workers, and to all workers who value a commitment to equality and diversity.

Conference is aware that there may be barriers that could stop Deaf members becoming active such as a lack of confidence, or a lack of supportive structures in their branch in which to gain experience. Conference is particularly aware of the need to encourage young Deaf workers to understand the importance of trades unions, to become members, to participate in their union’s activities and continue to fight for an end to discrimination faced by our Deaf members.

Conference calls on National Disabled Members Committee to:-

1)Work with the Deaf representatives on the National Disabled Members Committee and the Deaf caucus to explore ways to increase participation and help network Deaf members

2)Conduct a survey of Deaf UNISON members to identify the issues they face both in the workplace and in the union

3)Explore ways to increase participation and raise the profile of Deaf member’s using social media, UNISON’s website and e networks

4)Consider ways to increase the use of BSL video clips to explain key union issues and campaigns to Deaf members at branch, region and national level

5)Issue guidance to branches on how to improve access, involve and encourage Deaf participation at branch and workplace level