We’ve been working with RNID to provide civil servants with some information about how to support colleagues with hearing loss, or how to seek advice and support for yourself should you need it.
There is a high prevalence of hearing loss in the workplace. Hearing loss affects how people communicate in different ways. People who are profoundly deaf may use British Sign Language; people who struggle to hear may use hearing aids.
People with hearing loss may be reluctant to disclose it. Employers should create an environment that encourages them to be more open, with senior staff setting the example. Disclosure should be encouraged in an offer letter; in the induction; during appraisals.
There is plenty of support available, such as the Government’s ‘Access to Work’ scheme. Equipment and support such as adapted phones, hearing loops, wireless microphones and Sign Language Interpreters are available.
Many adjustments are cost free. Simple deaf awareness techniques can help ensure colleagues are included. Face colleagues so they can easily see your lip movements. If someone doesn’t understand what you’ve said, try saying it in a different way.
How can managers support staff with deafness or hearing loss?
The RNID Employers' Hub contains a wealth of information and guidance to help you support your employees. But here are some top tips:
Managers should encourage people to be open about their hearing loss.
- Senior staff should vocalise that it’s ok for people with a health condition or disability to be open about it
- Disclosure should be encouraged at every stage of an employee journey: at interview; in an offer letter; in the induction; during appraisals
Managers should be aware of ‘Access to Work' and support staff to apply for. It can pay for equipment such as adapted phones and hearing loops.
Managers should encourage effective communication with colleagues with hearing loss with simple tips such as:
- Face them so they can easily see you your lip movements
- If someone doesn’t understand what you’ve said, try saying it in a different way
The impact of Coronavirus
It is also important to understand the additional needs that colleagues with hearing loss may have whilst working from home, especially given the increased importance of phone and video calls. RNID provides information on the different accessibility options built into various systems, the additional support that can be provided and communication tips to make sure that colleagues can implement best practice deaf awareness on calls.
An increasing number of workplaces are also mandating the use of face coverings, which creates an additional barrier for people with hearing loss who rely on lipreading. These communication tips provide guidance on how colleagues can mitigate the impact of face masks for people with a hearing loss.
What if I need support myself?
RNID can provide practical advice and simple solutions to help employees reach their potential at work. Their free information line is open Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm on:
- Textphone: 0808 808 9000 (freephone)
- Telephone: 0808 808 0123
- Email: email@example.com
- Book a signed call with their BSL Information Service
Workplace assessments: they can carry out individual assessments offering practical recommendations to help staff reach their potential.
Deaf awareness and sign language training: they deliver a range of courses to help staff communicate effectively with colleagues or customers with hearing loss.
Communication support: they provide communication professionals including sign language interpreters, lipspeakers, notetakers and speech-to-text reporters.
Visit RNID to find our more.
How the Charity can help
If there is equipment that could support you at home and in the community, that isn’t available through your local health or social care services, the Charity may be able to help. Click here to find out more. Please note for any specialist equipment or high value items, we may require a recommendation from a health professional.