If you are deaf or have hearing loss it’s important to know your rights at work. The Equality Act 2010 (or the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 in Northern Ireland) states that employers must not discriminate against disabled people, which includes deaf people and those with hearing loss.
Disability discrimination in the workplace can happen if you’re treated less well than others as a result of your hearing loss. Discrimination doesn’t have to be intentional to be unlawful. It can be related to anything that is done or not done which creates barriers and puts you at a substantial disadvantage.
What is a substantial disadvantage?
Under the Equality Act 2010, employers have a responsibility to ensure that staff who are deaf or have hearing loss are not placed at a substantial disadvantage because of their disability compared with non-disabled people. This could include:
- struggling to understand a phone or video conversation
- having difficulty following meetings
- being unable to hear a fire alarm.
What are reasonable adjustments?
To avoid putting staff at a substantial disadvantage, employers have a duty to make reasonable adjustments for deaf people and those with hearing loss. Here are some examples of reasonable adjustments:
- Providing deaf awareness training to hearing staff so they can communicate more easily with colleagues who have hearing loss.
- Offering communication support for meetings and training sessions: BSL interpreters (by video or face to face), lipspeakers, speech-to-text reporters, electronic and manual notetakers or deafblind interpreters.
- Changing the working environment so it’s more deaf-friendly – improve the lighting, layout and acoustics.
- Sourcing assistive equipment – amplified phones, conversation listeners, hearing loops, vibrating pagers etc.
Book a workplace assessment
We can help your employer fulfil their obligations under the Equality Act and make your working environment more inclusive. A workplace assessment will identify any challenges you’re facing and outline how your employer can make reasonable adjustments to remove barriers. It will also explain how to get funding.