Changing views on employing staff with hearing loss

Audiologists could play a key role in helping to break down some of the barriers and unnecessary stigma that prevents many UK employers from hiring workers who are deaf or hard-of-hearing.

The charity Action on Hearing Loss is calling for more businesses in the country to be open to taking on members of staff with hearing problems, after a survey it carried out in conjunction with YouGov led to the discovery that over one-third (39 per cent) of UK companies do not feel confident offering a job to someone with hearing loss.

In addition, it was found that more than half (57 per cent) of employers do not know where to find advice or support on integrating hard-of-hearing members of staff into their wider organisation, which indicates that deaf individuals may be facing unnecessary discrimination.

Therefore, in a bid to tackle this issue, Action on Hearing Loss is calling on the government to take action to try to improve awareness of its Access to Work initiative, which is designed to provide practical advice to businesses on how they can make adaptations to their workplace or just offer general support to a staff member with hearing loss.

Paul Breckell, chief executive of the charity, stated: “The government needs to establish a disability information hub to offer a central one-stop resource for employers, providing them with a vital source of advice, alongside an awareness campaign highlighting its Access to Work scheme, which provides money to help organisations make changes to help disabled people to find and stay in work.”

In the meantime, however, audiologists could play an important role in increasing awareness of the scheme in their local area, perhaps in such a simple way as leaving leaflets in the local GP surgery waiting room in order to get the word around, or by posting about it on social media.

These small actions could mark the first steps to improved awareness and help to break down some of the stigma that apparently still surrounds hiring hard-of-hearing employees.

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James Puckle

(First published, 27/1/17)

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