Access To Work for Deaf employees

Access To Work for Deaf employees: what employers need to know

Are you making your job vacancies accessible to Deaf applicants?

5 million people of working age in the UK are living with hearing loss or Deafness[1], and there are millions of Deaf people willing and able to work. However, still, people with hearing loss continue to face barriers when it comes to the world of work. In fact, almost three-quarters (74%) of respondents in a recent survey felt their employment opportunities were limited because of their hearing loss[2].

Armed with the necessary information and support, you can remove workplace barriers for Deaf employees and job applicants and profit from the diverse skills and talents they have to offer. Here are the main things you need to know.

Improving accessibility

Under the Equality Act 2010, you must provide reasonable adjustments to remove, reduce or prevent the obstacles a Deaf employee may face as a disabled worker.

The term ‘reasonable adjustment’ is open to interpretation and will depend on the size of your company and the type of work your employee carries out, but you must be aware of these obligations.

Adjustments are not only necessary when you hire a Deaf employee but should be put in place throughout the recruitment process, too, for example by ensuring you advertise vacancies where people with hearing loss will see them, include an equal opportunities statement in your adverts or display the Disability Confident Logo if you are part of that scheme, potential applicants will then be encouraged to apply.  When offering Deaf applicants an interview, allow applicants to respond to application forms in British Sign Language if this is their first or preferred language, contact you via SMS, email or a video relay interpreter. Offer a range of interview formats such as a video/in-person interview including an Interpreter, to enable Deaf applicants to get in touch without hesitation and have an equal opportunity to be chosen for the vacancy.

The Access To Work [ATW] scheme

You may not be aware that help available through the government’s Access to Work [ATW] scheme could cover the costs of any ‘reasonable adjustments’ you need to make.

ATW is an employment support programme that aims to help more disabled people start and stay in work. It provides financial support towards the cost of practical workplace adjustments for people who are Deaf or have hearing loss, up to an annual limit of £60,700, and a grant could help pay for any assistive devices or communication support your Deaf employee needs at work.

After your employee has made their application, an ATW adviser will contact you both to discuss what help might be available. The value of the grant your employee receives depends on their individual circumstances, and you may also have to contribute depending on factors such as the size of your organisation, your turnover, etc.

For Deaf employees, ATW funding will usually cover a mix of face to face and video interpretation, translation and note taking services, and will enable them to pre-book a face to face/remote interpreter. ATW also allows the use of on-demand BSL Interpreting services to ensure Deaf employees can communicate instantly for meetings, calls and peer to peer communication as and when the need arises.

How we can help you

Sign Solutions is a language and learning company, specialising in interpretation support for Deaf people. We work with a number of large corporate organisations, including Royal Mail and Amazon, to provide Interpretation, training, advice and translations and to ensure their D/deaf employees have access to shift briefings, meetings, inductions, training and policies.

We can help you look at the accessibility of your recruitment, employment, training and retention processes from start to finish ensuring that the right support is in place and employees are empowered to progress equally in their employment career.

To find out more, contact us via telephone on 0121 447 9620, SMS on 07816 217 228 or email office@signsolutions.uk.com


[1] World Health Organisation, 2020

[2] NHS England, 2017