Leaders Credit Union hosts ASL class to better serve deaf customers

JACKSON, Tenn. — Leaders Credit Union employees see dozens of customers every day. Some of those customers are deaf, and employees wanted to find a way to make communicating easier.

“So working at Leaders, we’re always striving for ways to better serve our community,” said branch manager Latoya Ingram. “So reaching out to that particular community is something that I’m passionate about because I have a child who is disabled, so I try to give in when I can.”

Ingram is the branch manager at Leaders’ Oil Well Road location. In December, a deaf customer came into the branch, but none of the employees there that day knew sign language.

“It just became really close to our hearts to want to communicate more with him, so we attempted to teach ourselves sign language, but recently we reached out to West Tennessee Healthcare,” Ingram said.

They brought in ASL interpreter Cathy Simmons to teach them the basics of sign language and some common signs they need to know as bank employees, including money, deposit, and ‘How may I help you?'”

“We have a variety of different cultures, different languages in our community now, and we all need to be more aware of how we can meet different needs, and learning some of their language helps a lot,” Simmons said.

Simmons says she encourages employees at businesses to learn sign language to help people feel more comfortable — especially during COVID-19, when masks make it more difficult for the deaf community.

“There are many businesses that serve deaf and Spanish and a wide variety, and we need to be learning and accepting and cooperating with the languages and cultures in our community,” Simmons said.

Employees say they plan to continue with the classes and expand them for those who work at other branches.

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