A mother whose son was born deaf is fighting to make Williams Racing an inclusive environment for employees and F1 fans.

Claire Pagano, 36 is the head of IT delivery at Williams Racing in Grove, she has worked for the company for eight years, but it was not until her son Sebastian was born deaf that she realised just how inaccessible many public spaces are.

Mrs Pagano said: “My son was born in 2018 and he was born with a rare genetic condition called Charge Syndrome and as a consequence of that he was born profoundly deaf. He has cochlear implants, but his main form of communication is British Sign Language (BSL).”

READ ALSO: Culham Science Centre plans approved with thousands promised for bus services

Herald Series: Claire and her son Sebastian Claire and her son Sebastian

She added: “When I returned from maternity leave it was something I was quite passionate about driving forward change within our organisation to make it inclusive.

“I wanted to know how the organisation was set up to support deaf people and employees with hearing loss.”

Mrs Pagano asked to join the diversity and inclusion committee at Williams Racing to help implement change. Fast forward two years and now Mrs Pagano is doing just that.

Herald Series: F1 tour for fans who are deaf and hard of hearingF1 tour for fans who are deaf and hard of hearing

Over the past 12 months, Williams Racing has been working with terptree - an organisation that supports businesses to integrate deaf awareness across all areas - to build a more inclusive and accessible environment for deaf and hard of hearing employees and visitors.

READ ALSO: King Alfred’s school in Wantage celebrates 'good' Ofsted rating

The organisation highlighted areas Williams Racing needed to improve on. In the past year a huge amount has been achieved including: deaf awareness training for staff, 10 members of staff from different departments are currently undertaking a 30-week BSL course, first deaf friendly tour was hosted for F1 fans, portable hearing loops have been placed in meeting rooms and in the museum, and BSL content is set to be available on the Williams Racing website.

Herald Series: Williams Racing tourWilliams Racing tour

READ ALSO: Wantage saw thousands flock to St George’s Massive Market

These achievements are celebrated as Deaf Awareness Week takes place from May 2 to 8 and a week after parliament passed the BSL Bill, which saw British Sign Language recognised as a language of England, Wales and Scotland.

Herald Series: Williams Racing staff on BSL courseWilliams Racing staff on BSL course

Mrs Pagano said: “There are a lot of places that are not inclusive or accessible to deaf and hard of hearing people and we want to change that. We want to be somewhere that is an inclusive place to work and inclusive for engaging fans.”

Williams Racing has said deaf awareness is vital due to the nature of some roles within Formula One and the high risk of hearing loss over the years. All team's provide ear protection and regular hearing tests, but Williams Racing now has additional support in place.

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tik Tok

Got a story for us? Send us your news and pictures here

List an event for free on our website here