A HARTINGTON businesswoman has been praised by the British Deaf Association after becoming the first estate agent in the UK to offer a free sign language interpreter to deaf house-hunters.
Linda Mycock, of Hills and Dales Properties, launched the pioneering service this month after several coincidences led her to spot an “enormous” gap in the market.
In December 2012, a young deaf couple viewed one of Linda’s properties and brought along a signer with them to interpret the conversation.
But on the couple’s second visit – this time with other deaf family members – they didn’t manage to bring a signer along to interpret, making communication considerably more difficult.
Linda said: “We managed to get through the viewing all right – communicating via pen and paper – but I really felt I was letting the couple down by not accommodating people with hearing problems.”
Following this, another deaf couple approached Linda to sell their house.
“When this next couple approached me I was determined not to let them down so I started speaking to Rachel Lownds, a local signer, and asked if she would interpret the conversation,” Linda said.
Rachel agreed to help Linda and was then recruited as a permanent signer to help any deaf people communicate in the housing market.
Linda said: “Buying or selling a house is difficult enough – even with all your senses – and I’m just surprised that more businesses aren’t already offering these services.
“You would have a ramp on your office for people in wheelchairs and I don’t see offering a free sign language service as any different to that.”
Paul Redfern, business development manager for the British Deaf Association (BDA), said: “This is a really positive move that the BDA fully supports. Linda is really complying with the spirit of the Equality Act with this initiative.”
Linda runs her Hills and Dales Properties company from her home near Hartington.