Doof Vlaanderen

Strengthening the talents of deaf people in the job market

Doof Vlaanderen, a non-profit organisation representing the rights of deaf people in the Flanders region of Belgium, came to Namahn to design coaching and service concepts intended to help job seekers and employers of the hard of hearing.

Doof VlaanderenNon-profitDutch1 coach

Helping deaf people find their way within the job market

Deaf and hard of hearing people can experience different barriers throughout their professional careers. Through tailor-made coaching for the Doof Vlaanderen team, we drafted an inclusive service designed to build bridges between deaf and hard of hearing people and teams, employers, Flemish Sign Language interpreters and employment services.

This project was funded by the European Social Fund (ESF). The ESF is the main governing body of the European Union for supporting employment seekers by helping people get better jobs and ensuring fairer job opportunities for all EU citizens. In Flanders, the ESF allocates 20% of their budget for projects targeting vulnerable groups who may experience difficulties in the job market.

Co-creating a service concept

We developed the service concept for this project in a series of co-creation workshops with deaf people and employer , co-facilitated by the Doof Vlaanderen staff.

Watch the video about the idea workshop

Our service concept consists of three elements:

  • A co-creative lab for deaf jobseekers/workers and employers with solution-oriented workshops;
  • A knowledge expertise centre that provides the necessary information on rights, possible workplace adjustments and good practice via a physical (counter) and digital (website) space;
  • A renewal of the VDAB (public employment service of Flanders) service for deaf people including sign-language workshops for VDAB-employees.
Schematic representation of the future user experience

Testing the concept

Namahn assisted Doof Vlaanderen in the preparation of workshops made to be tested on a small scale. Additionally, an external university institution, the Artesis Plantijn University College of Antwerp, carried out an impact measurement of two workshops with deaf people and employers. Both workshop activities achieved the intended goals and led to an increase in deaf-awareness as well as newly proposed communication solutions within the teams.

Atmosphere of a workshop. In this project, the workshop formats were even more visual and tangible than usual in order to optimally support communication.

Preparing to launch

To prepare for the roll-out of the lab, Doof Vlaanderen needed a set of coaches that could facilitate the workshops on demand. Given our substantial workshop facilitation experience, we offered a one-day training to a set of diverse coaches (translators, HR-specialists, therapists…) to prepare the team. The coaches leading the workshops were deaf and hard-of hearing, as Doof Vlaanderen believes that this helps  raise awareness of the professional capabilities for this group of people.

Training “Facilitating workshops” for the future coaches of the lab

Beyond building the facilitation competences of the team, we were also tasked to capture the detailed wiring of the service and the resources needed in a service blueprint. This blueprint served as a support tool for ongoing dialogue with partners in the job market ecosystem such as VDAB.

Blueprint of the future service

“Namahn took care of the service design within our European Social Fund (ESF) project. Namahn’s way of working is interesting. Involving different perspectives in interactive design workshops has been an added value throughout our trajectory. By gathering input from all parties during the development, we ensured that the final goals can be achieved.”

Goedele De Clerck, psychotherapist in Flemish Sign Language
Doof Vlaanderen

Ongoing support throughout their careers

The result is a service that supports deaf and hard of hearing people throughout their careers from the initial stages of looking and applying for jobs, to the first few days at a new job and further career growth. Additionally, Doof Vlaanderen is now working to foster awareness of deafness with employers and (future) colleagues through campaigns and the sharing of testimonials. As Doof Vlaanderen continues to develop and shares knowledge about deaf people within the workplace,  the co-creative lab with workshops and the expertise centre that we designed is still currently being implemented. You can find out more information: