Under the Equality Act 2010 (or the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 in Northern Ireland) employers are required to make reasonable adjustments for existing staff and prospective employees who are deaf or have hearing loss. This is so they’re not put at a substantial disadvantage compared with hearing people.
Often simple and inexpensive
Many reasonable adjustments are simple and inexpensive for employers to implement, including improving the working environment or giving time off for audiology appointments. The government’s Access to Work scheme can help organisations cover more expensive adjustments such as the provision of communication support, and the cost of assistive equipment and training.
Workplace assessments for tailored support
Everyone’s hearing loss is different so the reasonable adjustments required will vary. That’s why a workplace assessment is recommended for all staff who are deaf or have hearing loss. The assessor will send a follow-up report with tailored information, support and reasonable adjustments that can be introduced to help employees work more easily.
10 examples of reasonable adjustments
- Offer communication support for meetings, training sessions and job interviews, such as notetakers or speech-to-text reporters.
- Provide deaf awareness training for colleagues of a deaf employee.
- Move an employee with hearing loss to a work area with good acoustics, and away from equipment like printers or air conditioning units.
- Reduce background noise by using soft furnishings and fitting rubber caps to chair and table legs.
- Turn off or turn down music in the workplace.
- Ensure deaf staff and those with hearing loss can see the rest of the room from their work station.
- Adjust the layout of meeting rooms and use good lighting to help everybody see each other clearly – this is important for lipreading.
- Install assistive equipment, such as amplified phones or hearing loop systems.
- Set up text or email alerts in buildings where Tannoy or PA systems are used.
- Provide a specialised digital listening device to help a deaf staff member hear better in meetings, over the phone or on web calls.