Your employer must make certain changes in your workplace so you’re not put at a disadvantage because you have hearing loss.
These changes are known as ‘reasonable adjustments’.
Your rights as a deaf employee or an employee with hearing loss
In England, Scotland and Wales
Under the Equality Act 2010, employers have a duty to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ for deaf people or people who have hearing loss, so that they’re not put at a ‘substantial disadvantage’ in work, compared with people who are hearing.
In Northern Ireland
Under the Disability Discrimination Act 1995, employers have a duty to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ for deaf people or people who have hearing loss, so that aspects of work are not ‘impossible or unreasonably difficult’ for someone with a disability.
Changes your employer must make
Employers have to make reasonable adjustments if they know or could be reasonably expected to know that you’re deaf or have hearing loss. Even if you haven’t told your employer, they should make enquiries if they see you’re having difficulties at work.
If your employer doesn’t know about the difficulties you’re having, speak to your manager or HR department.
Reasonable adjustments could include:
- changing the layout of meeting rooms and using good lighting to make lipreading easier
- providing assistive technology such as a listening device
- installing equipment such as flashing-light fire alarms
- providing communication support for meetings, if needed.
What counts as a reasonable adjustment for your employer to make depends on things such as the size of your employer and the cost of the adjustment needed. The government’s Access to Work scheme can help cover the cost of providing any support you need on top of reasonable adjustments.
If your employer doesn’t make the reasonable adjustments they are required to make, this is discrimination.
How to find out what adjustments could help you
Your employer should already be supporting you to make your workplace accessible. But you might find you need more support over time, or that your needs change. If so, let your manager or HR department know about the difficulties you’re facing.
Your employer might arrange for you to see an occupational health specialist, or there may be someone else within your company who’s trained to work with you to find out what adjustments you need. If not, you could ask your employer for a workplace assessment.
This is where a specialist assessor visits you in your workplace to find out what simple adjustments, equipment and support you could benefit from. Your workplace can include your home if you work from there some or all of the time.
The assessor will produce a report containing their recommendations of reasonable adjustments for your employer to make, and any additional support that could be funded through the Access to Work scheme.
Workplace assessments are available from specialist providers including RNID. They can also be used to support your Access to Work application.
Financial support from the Access to Work grant scheme
Access to Work is a government grant scheme that can cover the cost of the practical support you need on top of the reasonable adjustments your employer makes. For example, Access to Work might pay for:
- communication support for meetings – for example, a speech-to-text reporter
- assistive technology to help you communicate with colleagues.
You must apply for Access to Work yourself. Your employer cannot apply for you.
You’ll be offered support based on your needs and the unique circumstances of your role and workplace.
See our other online information
- Technology and products that could help you at work
- Deaf awareness resources for your colleagues
- Using communication support
If you are deaf, have hearing loss or tinnitus and need free confidential and impartial information and support, contact RNID.
We’re open 8:30am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.