Supporting deaf employees in the workplace

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Health Assured team

10 May 2022

One in five adults in the UK are deaf or have hearing loss. Deafness and hearing loss can have a range of challenging implications, especially when it comes to communication. And communicating with others makes up much of what we do as individuals.

Overcoming these obstacles can involve hearing therapy, lipreading classes and learning sign language. Hearing loss can also sometimes lead to withdrawal from social situations, emotional distress or loneliness.

These challenges are no small feat—so we must all do our bit to support those who need it and learn more about how deafness can impact life. To celebrate Deaf Awareness Week this week, we’re shining a light on how you can support deaf employees in the workplace.

 

What is Deaf Awareness Week? 

The UK Council on Deafness created Deaf Awareness Week to increase the visibility of challenges the deaf community face and educate others on how they can support them.

Deaf Awareness Week 2022 will take place from the 2nd to the 8th of May, and this year the theme is deaf inclusion. This year's theme highlights how hearing loss impacts daily life and how others can help support deaf people.

Being deaf brings unique challenges that not everyone will experience. Part of these challenges can be to do with mental health and exclusion from others. That’s why it’s up to everyone to come together to create a more inclusive society that values every individual. 

 

How can I support deaf employees at work?

Research shows that 70% of people with hearing loss said that it sometimes prevented them from fulfilling their full potential at work. Even with hearing aids, it’s not always easy to hear clearly in a busy work environment. That’s why employers must take steps to support employees who need it. We’ve put together some steps below to get you started.

 

Learn more about the deaf community 

Many people remain unaware of what life is like for a deaf person and the struggles they face. Familiarise yourself with educational materials and the different types and causes of deafness. Find out what adjustments you can make to employees’ roles to reduce stress and improve wellbeing. They might be small shifts—but they can make a big difference.

 

Tips for speaking to deaf employees

There are several things you can do to improve communication with deaf employees. Try the tips below:

  • Don’t say it doesn’t matter
  • Speak one at a time
  • Don’t speak too slowly or quickly
  • Smile and relax
  • Keep your mouth on show
  • Speak clearly without shouting
  • Face towards the person while you’re speaking
  • Repeat if you need to do so

 

Ask what helps 

No two people are the same. Many deaf people have different communication approaches, and some may use combined methods like hearing aids and lipreading. Don’t let worries about saying the wrong thing or approaching the topic stop you from having the conversation altogether. Instead, simply ask how they communicate and what you can do to help. This way you’re respecting their needs and finding out what works.

 

An open conversation 

The workplace and life aren’t two separate spheres; they interact with each other in different ways. Mental and physical health can impact life at work greatly. So as employers must address this. Let employees know that support is available should they need it and encourage managers to check in with employees regularly.

 

Health Assured can help you support deaf employees

Our Employee Assistance Programme provides 24/7, 365 emotional support to employees. Employees can access counselling to work through any difficulties they might face as a result of their condition. We can also provide guidance to managers on how to deal with issues at work. Simply get in touch with one of our wellbeing experts by calling 0800 206 2552 today to find out more. 

 

 

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