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Employers' guide to hearing impairment (deafness)

Deafness can be described as a partial or complete hearing loss or tinnitus (noises in the ear). There are 3.7 million of people of working age with hearing loss in the UK. Some people may be able to hear but have difficulty picking out sounds in a noisy environment.

Impact of hearing impairments

  • A sudden or unexpected loss in hearing can have an emotional or negative impact on mental health.
  • Workplaces may need aids and adaptations, for examples to fire alarms or the way a job is carried out.

Recruiting people with hearing impairments

  • There are many alternative ways of communicating with a person who is hearing impaired. Examples include email, TypeTalk, minicom, fax, letter, text message or a video relay interpreter.
  • Use a sign language interpreter to support the interview process – Access to Work may be able to fund this and other adaptations.
  • A good interpreter will help you to create an effective layout of the room. 

Supporting staff who have a hearing impairment

  • Risk assess the role and modify if reasonable.
  • Consider using Access to Work (external site) for sign language interpreters if the employee uses sign language.
  • If an employee uses hearing aids, consider the use of a loop system.
  • Review the induction, company handbooks and how the candidate can access these – especially health and safety regulations.
  • Arrange for a free Access to Work (external site) assessment for advice on adaptations to the workplace.

Useful information about hearing impairments

You might need to make some adjustments to help your employees. These could include specialist equipment like chairs and IT equipment. Grants are available through Access to Work (external site) to help to cover the cost of items that are identified as necessary to support employees who are disabled or have a health condition.

Take a look at our case studies to see how we have transformed the lives of disabled people