UCL Institute for Environmental Design and Engineering


Evaluation Exchange : Deaf Community Empowerment and Campaigning

13 December 2021

The Evaluation Exchange is a partnership between UCL and voluntary and community sector organisations in Camden and East London that aims to improve evaluation practice. This piece looks at the work of Deafroots and how they are collaborating with the Evaluation Exchange.

Two women working on a table

Since 2000, Deafroots has worked in partnership with all sections of society to create communities that understand and facilitate the needs of deaf and hard of hearing people. Based in East London, Deafroots' primary objectives are to promote deaf awareness and to provide training and support to deaf and hard of hearing people to ensure preparedness for employment. In charting their way forward, a robust evaluation and feedback framework is vital in finding solutions to existing challenges and as a basis for shaping and developing new projects.

Deafroots’ ongoing programmes are centred around employment, health, arts, and social projects, supporting over 430 young people with hearing and impairment deafness finding meaningful employment opportunities, all backed by a network of funders, investors and stakeholders. In understanding the lasting social and economic value created by Deafroots in the community, we aim to review and analyse the congruency between the organisation's objectives and their client's motivations and expectations towards the organisations.  Is Deafroots fulfilling the crucial needs of their clients? Should programmes be tailored towards what is most needed by their localised clients, or is more effort required to attract the correct client set? How can Deafroots attract a more diverse group of participants in their programme? Does Deafroots’ current workload reflect the organisation's capacity to provide employability skills training and matching, or is it time to examine and strengthen its organisational structure?

We realised early on the need for innovation and creativity when developing the proper assessment tools to get feedback from deaf and hard hearing individuals. The evaluation design and implementation need to be engaging and easily understood by the respondents, and we’ll need to employ interpreters well-versed in British Sign Language (BSL) during the gathering feedback period. Working during the Covid-19 pandemic also poses various challenges during the data collection stage and the initial development of ideas.

A small but enthusiastic and motivated team, we work together seamlessly to bring our professional expertise and research experiences to the project. Susana's interest and background in neuroscience and Aishah's research on evaluation, as well as former experiences in civil service, brings mileage to the group's experiences. Throughout the process, the team has been gathering valuable inputs from Sangeeta, our lead person in Deafroots, who provided us with the organisation's backgrounds, former evaluation reports, and access to the organisation's stakeholders and funders aspirations and hopes. We also appreciate the clarity and precision of a former member, Nilisha, who contributed significantly to the team's initial progress and way forward. 

Our current work is to design the feedback sessions, focusing on the use of open-ended questions that will help us uncover participants' motivation to attend Deafroots' programmes, their experience, what they take away from it, and what they feel they gained and researching the appropriate quantitative measures. Overall, the crux is developing a workable and practical evaluation framework that captures the correct input, indicators and outcomes.  It is an exciting time for the team, and we look forward to bringing value to the organisation and their benefactors. Good work takes practice, and real progress takes time. But, dedication produces results, and we are excited to see what we can achieve together as a team.

Read more about the Evaluation Exchange