When it comes to the recruitment and hiring process, Deaf and Hard of Hearing people often suffer discrimination, either directly or inadvertently.
Many people with hearing loss are reluctant to disclose it when applying for jobs because they think it will go against them or are worried their communication needs won’t be provided for during the interview process.
The UK’s disability employment rate is currently 28.8% lower than the employment rate of people who aren’t disabled.
That gap – unfortunately – is getting wider because of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. It means that disabled people, including those who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing, continue to face unnecessary barriers when trying to find work.
The business case for building a diverse workforce and hiring the best talent regardless of their personal circumstances is clear. Organisations big and small recognise the benefits it brings, from increased innovation and productivity to greater diversity of thought, perspective and lived experience.
Sadly, though, many employers are still not making their recruitment as accessible as it could be, which means they are missing out on many of the benefits that having a fully inclusive hiring process can bring.
How can I make my recruitment process more accessible?
Under the 2010 Equality Act, employers must provide reasonable adjustments to ensure disabled candidates are not put at a substantial disadvantage.
Fortunately, employers can implement a few simple things to make their recruitment process fairer and more accessible, and provide Deaf, Hard of Hearing and disabled job applicants with the same opportunities as any other potential employee. These include:
Deaf or Hard of Hearing applicants can often be put off from applying for a role based on the job advert.
If you don’t make it clear that your organisation is committed to being an inclusive employer or the ‘person specification’ includes requirements that would exclude someone with hearing loss, it may prevent a Deaf person from applying.
So, when it comes to creating a job listing, make your commitment to inclusivity and your willingness to make adjustments clear, and ensure all role and person requirements are inclusive.
If potential hires know, before applying, that you’re willing to make reasonable adjustments for them during the recruitment process, they’re more likely to apply and be open about their hearing loss.
While you can’t ask your candidates if they have any health issues or disabilities outright, showing you’re willing to make reasonable adjustments might help bring any issues out into the open, so you can work them out with the potential employee.
Making the application process as accessible as possible is also essential.
If potential employees are aware that you’re willing to make reasonable adjustments, it will put you in a better position to discover what changes you may need to make.
This could include making the application form available in different formats, such as large print, audio or with a BSL translation, and allowing candidates to submit applications in their preferred format.
Many organisations use assessments or test exercises to understand the candidate’s aptitudes and abilities during the recruitment process. It’s crucial that these are accessible to all candidates and don’t discriminate.
Again, making sure they are available in various formats and meet any additional communication needs is essential.
The world’s moved on since face-to-face interviews were the only way to get a job. Remote working, advances in technology and COVID-19 restrictions have all meant that many employers now offer telephone or video interviews instead of meeting in person.
Whichever method you use, it’s vital to ensure it’s as accessible as possible.
The interview stage can often be the hardest part of the recruitment process for the candidate. If they are Deaf or Hard of Hearing, it can be even more challenging. So, if you’re doing telephone interviews, making sure this doesn’t place candidates with hearing loss at a disadvantage is key. For face to face or video interviews, using a BSL interpreter may help.
Before the interview, you should find out if a BSL interpreter or other type of communication support is required, to ensure it can be booked in advance.
If the candidate is applying for a paid position, this can usually be funded through the Access to Work (ATW) scheme.
Supporting new Deaf and Hard of Hearing employees in the workplace
Supporting Deaf or Hard of Hearing candidates with reasonable adjustments extends beyond the recruitment process. If they are successful and you offer them the job, then you’ll have to support them in the workplace too.
Failing to accommodate reasonable adjustments is a common form of disability discrimination that can leave your organisation open to legal action and the financial and reputational damage it can bring.
So, it’s important you use the period between them accepting the job and their start date to find out what reasonable adjustments you need to make.
As an employer, you must ensure your Deaf or Hard of Hearing employees understand all the duties and responsibilities they will be expected to fulfil. This will help you determine what adjustments need to be made and if any special equipment needs to be purchased to help them do their job.
This can range from audio equipment to BSL interpretation, translation and note-taking, and can usually be funded through ATW.
Making any written policies, information or training videos accessible to Deaf employees is also essential.
We can help ensure your recruitment, employment, training, and retention processes are as accessible and inclusive as possible. To find out more about our recruitment support services, give us a call on 0843 178 0773, email firstname.lastname@example.org or contact us via a BSL video interpreter.