The aim of the Deaf Access project is to create an educational environment that is accessible, supportive and effective for deaf people. This environment will enable deaf students to attain the qualification of RMN (Registered Mental Nurse). They should then progress to become employed in services, where they are valued for their professional skills.
There are currently no Deaf qualified nurses working in the National Deaf Services in the National Health Service (NHS) or the independent sector. This has led to the loss of a potential pool of skilled carers, to professions in other areas. Deaf people can already qualify as social workers, psychologists, occupational therapists, teachers and counsellors. A study by David Wright of Sheffield University, of nurses working for the NHS, who went deaf after qualification, showed that there was no reason why deaf people could not work as nurses to the standards required by the UKCC.
Four national deaf services, the English National Board (ENB), Unison, representatives from the independent sector and Salford University came together to look at the possibility of a small group of deaf people accessing the pre-registration mental health-nursing programme. This will ultimately benefit deaf clients within mental health services and address the needs of the new National Strategy for Mental Health Services for Deaf people "A Sign of the Times".