Employment services for people with deafness and hearing impairment

For some people who have experienced a gradual decline in hearing, it can be difficult to ask for support. For some, hearing loss can lead to social exclusion and isolation in the workplace. By asking for support, people who are deaf or have a hearing impairment can benefit from full inclusion with their colleagues and customers.

If you are deaf or have a hearing impairment, the below tips can help you find a job you love and create a great working environment in which to thrive.

Preparing for the right job

Many people in the workplace may not have worked with a person who is deaf or has a hearing impairment. It is important to remember that your current or future colleagues may not know about your deafness or hearing impairment. People may be unsure of the best way to effectively communicate with you, so being open and honest with your colleagues can help create an effective team environment.

Work preparation can be a great step to help you prepare for a job if you are Deaf or have a hearing impairment.

EPIC CEO Bill Gamack has lunch with Booyong staff member Denis Mullane in the Booyong Cafeteria
EPIC CEO Bill Gamack has lunch with staff member Denis Mullane

Interview techniques

Everyone gets nervous about going to a job interview. Deaf people or people with a hearing impairment can find it difficult to know at what stage to disclose being Deaf or having a hearing impairment. When and if people choose to disclose a disability comes done to each individual. However, for people who are deaf or have a hearing impairment, being open and honest with your employer can help you succeed in the workplace.

Engaging a DES provider like EPIC Assist Can take the stress out of applying for a new job.

The key components to succeeding in the interview

Research. Conduct thorough research on the organisation and who you are meeting to make sure you are prepared for their questions. Research will also assist you to find out information you want to know and what questions you want to ask the interviewers.

Inform. Determine your own support needs ahead of time and inform the employer. Going into your interview with information about workplace modifications and supports that will help you succeed, can help employers understand that support is available to them when hiring a person who is deaf or has a hearing impairment Inform the interviewers of how you achieve results, be specific.

Dress for Success. Always dress for success, aim to be better dressed than those interviewing you.

Focus on your strengths. Bring a positive attitude to the interview, focus on your strengths rather than any limitation you may perceive.

Take an advocacy support person. It is okay for a Deaf person or those with a hearing impairment to have an advocate or support person with them – this might be a friend, family member, or employment consultant. They can provide support during an interview and assist with communication. It’s important to let the employer know in advance.

On the job support

By being open with your colleagues about your Deafness or hearing impairment you can inform them of the best ways to communicate with you. This will help create a positive working relationship and a dynamic team environment.

Small changes your colleagues can make will have a huge difference in the way you are able to do your job. You know your needs better than anyone, and will know the best ways for your colleagues to communicate with you. As a starting point, you may like to ask your colleagues to

  • Walk into your eyesight before tapping you on the shoulder
  • Enunciate their words and not mumble
  • Look at you when they speak
  • Speak normally to you, and be prepared to repeat their sentence if you need to hear it again.

Disability awareness training

Remember that your colleagues are great people who want to see you succeed in the workplace. Many misunderstandings that transpire with Deaf people and people with a hearing impairment stem from lack of understanding. Deaf people or people with hearing impairment should address the issue if they are struggling to communicate. An additional or alternative route can be for your DES provider to organise awareness training to make sure your colleagues are well informed.

EPIC Assist offers diversity and inclusion training to our employers. We believe that organisations are stronger when they focus on people’s abilities and talents. Through our training, we ensure that workplaces are disability confident and welcoming to employees of all abilities.

Workplace adjustments

There are several workplace adjustments your future employer can implement to make sure the office is set up to enable you to succeed in your role. You can bring these workplace adjustments to your employer’s attention, EPIC and Job Active can assist employers in making these changes and cover some of the associated costs.

Your desk. People who are Deaf or those with hearing impairment work best when their desk is situated in an area of the office where they can take in all of their surroundings. A corner desk is best, so people who are deaf or have a hearing impairment can see when people are walking towards them or speaking to them at all times, and are not closing off communication with people who may be seated out of their vision.

Audible announcements. Ensure audible announcements or information shared ‘through the grapevine’ is communicated to the person. This can be communicated through email, audio transcripts or instant messaging applications.

Background noise. Almost all people who have a hearing impairment will find it difficult to communicate if there is a lot of background noise. Try to reduce the amount of background noise in the office or consider relocating the person’s desk to a place with the least disruption. Audio cancelling headphones are available if needed.

Lighting. Deaf people and people with a hearing impairment may lip read and/or rely on verbal cues. Therefore, it is important to provide good lighting, both natural and artificial. Avoid harsh lighting and glare; Deaf people and people with a hearing impairment need to see the other person’s face when having a conversation.

Subtitles. Make sure all video material within the workplace includes subtitles. This is a great communication tool for all employees, as many people like to watch videos with the sound muted, or enjoy having the extra clarification of text.

Support networks

Support networks are a great resource for Deaf people and people with a hearing impairment, both in a personal and professional setting. This might include friends, family members, employment consultants, and health professionals. Having a support network can help Deaf people and people with hearing impairment with any problems they are experiencing, particularly if they are adjusting to a new career path.

Community-based support groups can also offer an encouraging space for Deaf people and people with hearing impairment to connect with others At EPIC we take the time to understand each job seeker’s needs and adapt our services to match them. Our assistance can reduce the stress applying to jobs for Deaf people and people with hearing impairment. We can also link you with great support networks in your area.

Our approach

We help Deaf people and people with hearing impairment to find and keep a job they love by supporting them throughout their employment journey until our assistance is no longer needed. We help employers find job-ready employees who bring valuable new perspective and a competitive advantage to their business. Our approach is based on achieving sustainable employment, resulting in success for all – job seekers, employers and the community.

Deaf people or those with a hearing impairment can perform their roles just like anyone else. The workplace adjustments consist largely of awareness training and communication in the office, which can better the environment for all staff.

Deaf people and people with hearing impairment can come to EPIC in several ways:

  • Through Centrelink, where they choose EPIC as their Disability Employment Services provider
  • By self-referring, which means they come straight to us and don’t go to Centrelink first

At EPIC, we work with each job seeker to discover their strengths and goals and support them to build the skills they need to find and keep a job. We can also identify any skills gaps and training courses that will help Deaf people and people with hearing impairment reach their employment goals.

We know what it takes to help Deaf people and people with a hearing impairment to find a job they love. If you would like to find out more about our services, contact us today.

Diverse teams drive change

Sam has a genetic hearing disability, and auditory processing disorder. But instead of holding her back, her disability helps her drive change in her community.