Deaf Awareness Week

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Deaf Awareness Week

by James Postlethwaite Marketing Officer – Connecting Choices

Today marks the start of Deaf Awareness week which runs between 4-9 May 2021. Deaf people face many barriers including entering the workplace and communicating with others. 10 million people in the UK have a hearing impairment, deafness or hearing loss and there are 151,000 British Sign Language (BSL) users. Over four million of those with a hearing impairment are of working age and to raise awareness we will be posting tips over the coming days on how to communicate with Deaf people.

Deaf people signing

“There are 10 million people with a hearing impairment, deafness or hearing loss and 151,000 BSL users in the UK.”

Searching for employment:

The biggest challenge facing Deaf people in the workplace is the lack of Deaf awareness. Deaf people are more likely to be unemployed as 65% of working age Deaf people are in employment compared to 79% of the general population (source). Job searching can be a very difficult task for Deaf people as they have communication barriers to entering the workplace.

One in four Deaf people face discrimination against in the workplace according to Total Jobs. The worries of being discriminated against can heighten the complexities of job searching as there is a debate over whether to include that you are Deaf or hard of hearing on your CV. Under the ‘Equalities Act 2010‘ you are entitled to equal access support and should not be discriminated against.

Once in employment Deaf people face difficulties in the workplace due to the lack of knowledge from employers of the ‘Access to Work’ (ATW) scheme. When searching for a job, communication with the employer is crucial as they could favour telephone interviews before securing a face-to-face interview. If a telephone interview is scheduled the need to inform the employer is paramount so they can arrange to communicate through video call along with a live captioner or interpreter including making alternative arrangements.

Reasonable adjustments employers can make and support through ATW:

• Have access to a BSL interpreter for meetings.
• Working flexible hours.
• Allowing you to work from home sometimes.
• Specialist equipment such as phones, hearing amplifiers, portable hearing loop systems, text phones and conference microphones.
• Training for your employer and colleagues to help them better understand and support your needs in the workplace.
• Adjusting the layout of a meeting room and using good lighting to help the person with hearing loss see everybody clearly – this is important for lipreading.
• Modifying a job to take the needs of a person with hearing loss into account.
• Moving a person with hearing loss to an office with good acoustics – where sound is transmitted well.
• Providing communication support for meetings, such as speech-to-text reporters.
• Providing a portable hearing loop, or other listening device, for employees with hearing loss to use during a training course away from the office.
• Giving employees time off work for their audiology appointments.

The labour market:

People with hearing loss represent a talented and skilled labour resource, but this remains somewhat untapped. To ensure that employers recruit from the largest talent pool and include those who may have hearing loss, employers should:

• Advertise jobs where people with hearing loss will see them or be told about them.
• Offer alternative ways for people to contact employers for more information, for example, provide an email address as well as a telephone number or an information pack.
• Think about the wording of the advert, and express the importance of matching people with the right skills to the job.
• Think about including an equal opportunities statement in the advert.
• Commit to becoming Disability Confident. This government scheme aims to help employers make the most of opportunities provided by employing people with disabilities. The scheme advises employers on the steps required to attract, recruit and develop people with disabilities.

Becoming Deaf aware:

Becoming Deaf aware can help remove barriers that impact Deaf people in the UK, by understanding how a Deaf person needs to communicate. See our five tips below for communicating effectively with Deaf people:

1. Make sure you have the person’s attention before you start speaking.
2. Always ask if they need to lip read you even if someone is using a hearing aid.
3. Face the person you are speaking to so they can lip read and be aware not cover your face while speaking.
4. Talk normal and do not shout as it can be uncomfortable for hearing aid users and it also makes it difficult for people who lip read to understand what you are saying.
5. If someone does not understand what you have said, try saying it in a different way or write it down.

Why the Capital 'D' for Deaf:

For profoundly Deaf people in the UK, British Sign Language (BSL) is usually their first or preferred language.  The capital ‘D’ is not a typing error – it covers those Deaf people who are BSL users and are very passionate about Deaf culture.

Connecting Choices Programme:

The Connecting Choices programme works with partner charity Royal Association for Deaf people (RAD) who provides services to Deaf people.  Since 1841 RAD has worked to ensure that Deaf people have access to services in BSL. Working together we aim to raise the profile of Deaf awareness over the coming months.

If you know someone in Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire Moorlands or Newcastle-under-Lyme that we can support please contact Natasha Church, Head of Service: natasha.church@ixionholdings.com or 07919 004301.