The Equality Act 2010 (or Disability Discrimination Act 1995 in Northern Ireland) requires employers to make reasonable adjustments so that deaf people and those with hearing loss are not unfairly disadvantaged during the recruitment process or in the workplace. Reasonable adjustments, to help those with hearing loss, are often free or inexpensive to implement and the government’s Access to Work scheme can contribute to the cost of specialist equipment and practical support.
Tips for making reasonable adjustments during recruitment
Here are some ways that employers can make the recruitment process accessible and inclusive for those with hearing loss:
- Clearly state on the job advertisement and application form that you offer communication support at interviews, for example BSL interpreter or speech-to-text reporter.
- Some people with hearing loss may prefer not to use the phone, so always provide an alternative contact method.
- When you invite a candidate for interview, explain what will be involved on the day – interview panel, group exercise, written test, presentation etc – and ask if any adjustments will be needed.
- Make sure the interview room is well lit so the candidate can clearly see the interviewer’s face to facilitate lipreading. Check that the seating arrangement works for them on arrival.
- Give the candidate the interview questions on paper just before the interview starts to avoid any misunderstandings.
Examples of reasonable adjustments in the workplace
Reasonable adjustments will vary for each person but here are some general suggestions:
- Offer a specialist workplace assessment to identify what adjustments are needed. (Access to Work may cover up to 100% of the cost of adjustments if the application is made in the first six weeks of employment.)
- Position their desk away from background noise, such as printer, air conditioning unit, kitchen, in place where the employee can see the rest of the office.
- Provide specialised equipment – amplified phone/headset, conversation listener, flashing-light fire alarms.
- Give time off work for audiology appointments.
- Arrange communication support for meetings, if required.
Organise deaf awareness training for other staff to improve communication within the team.
Once you’ve established what reasonable adjustments are needed and implemented them, arrange regular catch-ups to check how the adjustments are working and whether they need amending.