“You need to arrange your own interpreter.” The handwritten note that appears to show bank breaking its own policy

Posted on June 6, 2013

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In the Accessibility section of NatWest’s website, it says clearly that the company, which calls itself Britain’s ‘Helpful’ bank, has a policy of providing Deaf customers with a sign language interpreter.

“We can arrange for an RNID Interpreter to be present for meetings free of charge, but please bear in mind this may require a few days notice.”

However, using handwriting on a branded compliment slip, an employee appears to have told one Deaf customer: “We don’t provide this service.” Instead of the bank booking her an interpreter, she would need to bring her own.

Ella Alchimowicz Sadouk says that she was handed the note at her local branch in Manchester when she asked for an interpreter to discuss her account. She then shared the note on the ‘Spit the Dummy’ Facebook group that is campaigning to improve the rights of people who use British Sign Language.

So what is the bank’s policy towards BSL users? For one thing, it appears that their Accessibility page may be out of date, since the RNID changed its name to Action on Hearing Loss several years ago (thank you to our commenter below for pointing this out).

We have now had this response from NatWest’s Twitter account:

Screen shot 2013-06-06 at 14.41.37

Screen shot 2013-06-06 at 14.41.42However, when we asked if there was a policy of free interpreting provision for Deaf customers, they replied:

Screen shot 2013-06-06 at 14.47.07

To which we asked them whether they had a national policy or not:

Screen shot 2013-06-06 at 14.53.11

And a Deaf Tweeter then said:

Screen shot 2013-06-06 at 14.47.14

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Posted in: Andy Palmer