Getting to Know You – Donna Brayley-Willmetts, Deaf Direct Trustee
What do you do for a living?
My role is Facilities Manager for the College of Social Sciences at the University of Birmingham. I ensure that the organisation has the most suitable working environment for its employees, students and visitors and their activities. I am involved in both strategic planning and day-to-day operations, particularly in relation to the College buildings and premises. I have been at the University for 28 years in various roles. I think you could say I am ‘institutionalised’. 🙂
What is your link with deafness?
I have no direct links with deafness. I have always been fascinated by sign language so thought I would learn to sign. This led to wanting to be more involved with the Deaf community; wanting to raise people’s awareness of deafness and its impact; and feeling the need to promote equality, diversity and human rights at work. I really have had my eyes opened since learning to sign.
How long have you been a DD Trustee?
I have been a Trustee at Deaf Direct since September 2009. My, how time has flown!
What motivates you to be a Trustee?
I love to learn. I care passionately about the things I do. I am so glad to be involved in a charity that I care about, with people from whom I can learn new things and where I can make a positive difference too. Through Board service I can hopefully give something back to the community and play a small part in the lives of those who have possibly been less advantaged. It’s a real privilege and very exciting to be able to help shape Deaf Direct as an organisation.
Is there a particular issue about deafness that really gets you fired up?
It may be extremely difficult for Deaf people or people with a hearing loss to get a job. Whether because of ignorance or uncertainty, I feel some employers are often unwilling to offer jobs to people with deafness. Many people suffering with deafness are stuck in jobs that are unfulfilling, offer no advancement possibilities, or lack challenge and interest. They are stuck because they think it is extremely unlikely that they will get hired for another job, regardless of their qualifications and experience. If I can raise awareness in even the smallest of ways, it will have been worthwhile.
Tell us something interesting about yourself?
Well, I am happily married to a man who I met on a blind date over 25 years ago. We lead a wonderful life with our dog, touring around in our motorhome at every opportunity. I have the best mom, dad, sister and niece in the world. If I had my life all over again, I wouldn’t change a thing, oh, except I might have continued playing the saxophone – maybe I should take it up again?