If you are deaf or suffer from loss of hearing, we have useful information on how to find work and ensure your employer supports you in the workplace.

11 million people in the UK are deaf or suffer from some form of hearing loss, and research suggests people who are deaf or hard of hearing are four times more likely to be unemployed than a hearing person.

Deafness can be difficult for employers to understand; however, there is support available for both those trying to find work and those in work. This is in addition to resources and schemes set up to help companies and organisations better understand the needs of employees diagnosed with hearing difficulties. There are opportunities for work in nearly every industry, and more and more employers are finding that employees with hearing loss/difficulties are making significant contributions towards their company’s success, becoming invaluable assets to their organisation.

Definitions

There are two main types of deafness: ‘Sensorineural‘ is where inner ear hearing loss is caused by damage to the cochlea and is usually permanent. ‘Conductive‘ is where blockages such as fluid or wax result in sound passing through the outer and middle ear into the inner ear ineffectively and is more often temporary. Many people who suffer from hearing loss have tinnitus and can experience balance difficulties increasing the risk of falls.

Support in the workplace

In many cases, employees can find it difficult talking to their employer about hearing loss, but it is crucial they understand the effect it has on your ability to do your job. Your employer should be able to direct you towards their policy for supporting employees with disabilities in the workplace, and they may be able to apply for additional funds and training through government schemes.

It may also help to talk to some of your colleagues about your hearing difficulties. Sharing advice about the best methods of communication will aid you within the workplace and also help your fellow workers to form a better understanding of your disability.

If your employer is reluctant to provide the support you need or is not giving access to the same opportunities as others because of your hearing loss, this can be classed as discrimination under the Equality Act 2010. You can take steps to try and resolve this, such as requesting a mediation meeting or by making a formal complaint using your company’s grievance policy.

If you are still not satisfied with the outcome, you may consider making a case for an employment tribunal; however, this can be a lengthy and costly process. It is highly recommended to gain advice from organisations such as Citizen Advice and ACAS if you find yourself in this situation. For more information, visit our guide to your rights as a disabled worker.

Advice for Employers

When provided with the right support, people who are deaf or have hearing loss can meet, and often exceed all expectations. As an employer, it is important to understand how you can help employees with deafness overcome any communication barriers and support them to reach their future potential. You can raise awareness in the workplace by having suitable policies and procedures in place to encourage equality and diversity, whilst taking action against discrimination and anyone singled out because of their disability.

Just some of the benefits of hiring staff suffering from some form of deafness include:

  • They are commonly very detail-oriented, excelling at taking notes or recording valuable details in meetings
  • They can use various methods of communication well, such as emails and written correspondence
  • They can offer a unique perspective based on life experiences and contribute positively to a task or project
  • They are often among your most loyal employees, with other opportunities often harder to come by

Visit our guide to employing a disabled person  for more information on the benefits and assistance available when hiring a person with disabilities.

Finding Work

There are at least 4.4 million people with deafness or some form hearing loss who are of working age in the UK. Whilst statistically, the employment rate is lower compared to people with no long-term health issues or disabilities, it is important to acknowledge there is support available when trying to find work. There are jobs, apprenticeships, and graduate schemes available for deaf workers, covering a wide range of industries. Finding a job can be daunting, but you can get support with CV writing, interview skills more. This guidance will help find the right job for you and rapidly increase your job prospects.

Here are 5 tips to help you find your dream role:

  1. Look in the right places – Careers with Disabilities provide advice and guidance for jobseekers with disabilities. Our specialised employer directory and jobs board can help you find an inclusive employer.
  2. Talk to employers – Being open with potential employers is key to ensuring you have the right support, and it allows them to make suitable adjustments for an interview.
  3. Consider your CV – there is no right or wrong answer as to whether you should choose to disclose your deafness on your resume, but always remember you have the right to a fair interview.
  4. Ask for support – Ensure you have suitable resources available to succeed when applying for job roles, such as an interpreter or specialist equipment
  5. Use the Access to Work scheme – read more below about the benefits of applying for the government’s disability job support scheme.

Access to Work

If you are concerned about or worried about being finding work or being supported in the workplace, Access to Work is a government scheme aimed at making life easier. By providing practical advice and support, it ensures workers with a range of disabilities and health conditions have fair access to careers and job prospects. Access to work can provide an interpreter or sign language communicator for important meetings or job interviews and money towards the added cost of taxi’s where no public transport is available to and from the workplace. It can also fund Specialist equipment such as textphones, hearing amplifiers or portable hearing loop systems or even additional training for your organisations to help them understand how to ensure your needs are understood and cared for.