Deaf Awareness Week takes place from 2 to 8 May 2022. The theme this year is deaf inclusion and aims to highlight the impact of hearing loss on everyday life and increase visibility and inclusion of deaf people.

In this blog, Helen Clay, Head of HR at Bray & Bray, provides advice on how employers can support deafness within the workplace.

There are an estimated 11 million people in the UK with hearing loss, making it thesecond most common disability in the UK.

The awareness week highlights the importance of mental health for people with hearing loss and aims to address pertinent issues of deafness that are being overlooked in education, health settings and the workplace.

There are a number of changes employers can make to help deaf employees feel included, safe and happy at work. Some of these may include:

Raising awareness of deafness

Hearing loss impacts people in a variety of ways and to different degrees. Some people wear hearing aids to support their hearing whereas others may manage their condition day-to-day without a hearing device. Some people are happy to talk about condition whereas others may prefer to keep it to themselves.

Employers can raise awareness and increase understanding of hearing loss by delivering training in the workplace, sharing information on how to support colleagues with hearing loss, and providing additional support for deaf employees. Educating staff on ways to communicate with deaf colleagues is also important. Those working closely with a deaf colleague, such as their line manager, may wish to take part in a sign language training session to aid two-way communication and improve the level of support they can offer them.  

Provide a safe environment

Not only do employers need to raise awareness of how to support colleagues who are deaf, they also need to provide robust, practical support for them. Those who disclose their disability may need adjustments to their working environment and set-up to enable them to carry out their role with greater comfort and ease.

Many people live with deafness or hearing loss and do not disclose it; therefore, it is important for employers to create a safe and positive environment for employees to raise concerns and be open about their issues. Training and implementing Mental Health First Aiders who can support employees in the workplace is a key step towards achieving this.

Create a positive, open culture

Think about how you and your senior management team communicate messages across the business and how you deliver meetings to staff. When conducting meetings, remember to pause and recap key actions and points, create presentations with visual elements, and take notes of the key points and distribute these afterwards. Think about your audience and how best you can create a positive culture that will engage all involved.

To find out more about Deaf Awareness Week and access helpful resources and tips for supporting those living with hearing loss or deafness, click here.

Speak to our HR experts

If you would like advice and guidance on how to better support your deaf employees, Bray & Bray’s Employment & HR team can help.

Contact us here.