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RNID win as government commits to a national information service for employers on disability

  • The government has committed to creating a national information service on disability for employers.
  • RNID has long campaigned for this, to improve the employment opportunities for those who are deaf or have hearing loss.
  • Research for the charity’s Working for Change campaign in 2016 showed that over a third of businesses (35%) would not feel confident employing people with hearing loss.
  • When asked, more than half of business leaders (57%) said there was a lack of support or advice available for organisations when recruiting someone with hearing loss.
  • The service will help manage common health and disability issues in the workplace, with design work taking place this year. 
  • RNID will continue to work with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to ensure the service is live as soon as possible.

RNID, the national charity making life fully inclusive for deaf people and those with hearing loss or tinnitus, has welcomed an announcement from the government that they will create a national information advice service on disability for employers. This is something the charity has long been campaigning for, as part of its Working for Change campaign to improve the employment opportunities for people who are deaf or have hearing loss.

The government has now published proposals for a national information and advice service for employers on health, work and disability as part of its response to a previous consultation, ‘Health is Everyone’s Business’, which closed in October 2019. The government has announced that the service will help manage common health and disability issues in the workplace, with design work on the service taking place this year.  

RNID has had a long-running campaign calling on government to create an Employers’ Disability Information Hub and therefore welcomes this announcement. In 2016 we conducted research with YouGov which demonstrated the barriers disabled staff face in the workforce: this found that nearly one in three businesses (35%) would not feel confident employing people with hearing loss and over half of business leaders (57%) said there was a lack of support or advice available when recruiting someone with hearing loss. In Autumn 2018 we worked with our supporters, and over 1,000 people took action to explain to the then Minister for Disabled People, Sarah Newton, the impact that poor employer attitudes have on their lives and career prospects. We also hosted the current Minister for Disabled People, Justin Tomlinson, at a roundtable event in July 2019 where he heard directly from deaf people about their experiences in the workplace.

RNID’s Associate Director of Insight and Policy, Roger Wicks, said:

“Although it has taken a long time to achieve, we are pleased that the DWP has listened to our evidence and the needs of employees who are deaf and brought forward proposals for an advice service for employers on health, work and disability. We hope they will progress this work as quickly as possible and that the service goes live imminently.  We know from speaking to both deaf people and employers that employers don’t know where to turn for the simple, practical advice and support they need to be able to offer effective adjustments to deaf members of staff or applicants. This lack of support often leads to a fear of employing deaf people, which can lead to deaf people significantly less likely to be in employment than their peers who do not have a disability. We believe employer information and disability-specific advice was one of the key missing elements within the government’s Disability Confident scheme and hope the proposed advice service fills this void and empowers employers to offer deaf applicants the opportunities their talents deserve.”

“RNID has already produced our own guidance for employers and set out best practice for how deaf members of staff can be supported across an organisation. We hope the government will consider using this content and working with disability organisations to provide employers with information informed by the needs of people with lived experience.”

The government has also announced a consultation on its green paper: ‘Shaping Future Support: The Health and Disability green paper’, which will include proposals on the provision of employment support to disabled people. The government has said they acknowledge that a ‘one size fits all’ approach to employment support cannot work for everyone and that tailored support needs to be offered.

Roger Wicks added:

“We welcome the government’s focus on personalised employment support and we will be calling for specialist provision to be made available to deaf people. We know from the services we have run that employment support led by staff who understand the barriers that deaf people face and can therefore make tailored suggestions to meet individual needs, produces better results. This provision often isn’t the case with existing government specialist employment schemes which rely on generic providers or secondary contracting which means many deaf people are left without specialist support.”

ENDS


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Notes to editors

  • Read or download our employers’ guide to supporting employees who are deaf or have hearing loss to thrive
  • For more information on our social research on the needs of people who are deaf or have a hearing loss in the workplace, read our Working For Change report.
  • Read the DWP’s report Health is everyone’s business: Government response to the consultation on proposals to reduce ill-health related job loss
  • Read the DWP’s Green Paper Shaping Future Support The Health and Disability Green Paper
  • RNID is the national charity making life fully inclusive for deaf people and those with hearing loss or tinnitus.
  • Currently, one in five adults in the UK have a form of hearing loss. One in eight people have tinnitus. 
  • RNID was founded in 1911. For more than 100 years the charity has pioneered new treatments for hearing loss and tinnitus. It has promoted access to sign language and subtitles, brought in free hearing tests for new-born babies, worked with technology for cochlear implants and developed techniques to help people cope with tinnitus. 
  • We’re a collective force campaigning for an inclusive society. We make deaf people, and those with hearing loss and tinnitus, part of the conversation to drive change – and help friends and families, workplaces and communities stay connected. We’re a trusted source of practical advice and we pioneer new treatments for hearing loss and tinnitus. We’ve been around for over 100 years and, until everyone is 100% included, we’re here to stay. 
  • Our Information Line offers free confidential and impartial information on a range of subjects related to hearing loss and tinnitus. It is open between 9am and 5pm, Monday to Friday. Call: 0808 808 0123. Live chat and British Sign Language (BSL) Information Line is available on our website at www.rnid.org.uk.   
  • Visit our website for more information and support on all topics that deaf people or those with hearing loss or tinnitus face: www.rnid.org.uk