Deaf Studies Graduate, Asif Iqbal MBE, talks about career in Public Services

Asif Iqbal MBE studied BA (Hons) Deaf Studies and Education at the University of Central Lancashire, where his career went from strength to strength, gaining royal recognition before he had even graduated

During his time at University, Asif was proactive and was involved in numerous student activities. He taught the Mayor and Mayoress of Preston sign language as part of a promotional campaign to urge Preston town hall staff to use British Sign Language (BSL). Asif was also a Disabilities Officer at UCLan Students’ Union, where he put forward recommendations for improving the experience of union members with disabilities. Asif’s activities led to a special invitation from HRH Queen Elizabeth II herself, presenting him with a MBE in 2011.

He said: “I was shocked to receive an invitation from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and The Duke of Edinburgh inviting me to join a reception at Buckingham Palace on 1 June 1998, to celebrate the recognition for being a young achiever.”

After graduating, Asif worked at the Sales and Information Office at Buckingham Palace, where he became the first deaf person to work at Buckingham Palace. Looking back at this experience, Asif said: “I was surprised when His Majesty The King came to my office and spoke to me via a BSL interpreter and said he was impressed with my work.”

After a stint at Buckingham Palace, Asif became a Deaf Development Officer in Kent where he worked with agencies, service users, community councils and voluntary sector. A few years later, Asif became a Project Manager for Parentline Plus where he represented 25 million parents and worked with the most excluded families.

In 2010, Asif secured a role as a Public Appointments Ambassador for the Cabinet Office and Government Equalities Office, where his aim was to widen participation from the number of people from diverse and underrepresented backgrounds in applying for public appointments. In 2023, Asif was appointed to the BSL Advisory Board for the Cabinet Office and became Chair of the Government Communication Service Subgroup, which includes No. 10.

Asif then worked as Media and Project Manager for Deaf Parenting UK, a unique organisation that focuses on the needs of deaf parents. He networked with high profile clients and was actively responsible for organising annual national conferences, dealing with press/media enquiries and more.

He was also the Chair of Hearing Loss Professionals Network UK and an Independent Member of Standard Committee Westminster City Council.

"I would encourage anyone to apply at the University of Central Lancashire as it is an excellent University with great communication support and full access to lectures and the Students’ Union. There is a great student life too!"

BA (Hons) Deaf Studies and Education alumnus, Asif Iqbal MBE

Asif is currently a Specialist Adviser for local authorities, providing services to deaf and hard of hearing people. He is also an Executive Member of the Camden Black Worker Group. As an active member, Asif organised a Diwali event for staff to celebrate and raise awareness of Diwali. Since then, Asif has contributed to Race Equality Work and supported the annual Black History Month. He was Chair of the Camden Disability Network, where he secured the Wellbeing Passport, the Disability Charter, and the annual Disability History Month event.

Asif has successfully delivered several Deaf Awareness training sessions to large organisations, including Google HQ, the Cabinet Office, the Greater London Authority Mayor’s Cultural Team, 15 GP surgeries in Camden, Camden Clinical Commissioning Group, University College Hospital, and Transport for London.

Asif is one of the judges for the Shaw Trust Disability Power List 2024. He was also Brent Council Community Adviser for Brent Culture 2020. In recent years, he featured on national television in the Marks and Spencer Christmas food advert, 'Coronation Street', 'Eastenders' and even has a small part in Netflix's 'The Crown' series.

There are many moments in Asif's career which have made him proud of how far he's come along. Some of these include being included the Shaw Trust Disability Power List 100 in 2018 and 2021 for his influence in public service. He's also won numerous awards such as the Harrow Council Role Model, European Diversity Award, Muslim News Award for Excellence, Asian Lite Business Award, GG2 Leadership Award, and an MBE in 2011 for his public service contributions.

Reflecting on his time at University, Asif said: “I enjoyed staying and studying at UCLAN, my time there significantly helped in developing my professional career and influence through public service."

Asif Iqbal MBE, BA (Hons) Deaf Studies and Education graduate
Asif Iqbal MBE, BA (Hons) Deaf Studies and Education graduate