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      'Working for Change’ campaign dispels common myths that deaf people are difficult or dangerous to employ

      Charity Action on Hearing Loss launched its new campaign, ‘Working for Change’ today (Tuesday 24th October) at the Skainos Centre in East Belfast, which aims to help employers become more confident in recruiting and supporting staff who are deaf or have hearing loss. 

      Two recent research reports from the charity have identified that

      • over a third (35%) of business leaders said that they do not feel confident about their business employing a person with hearing loss
      • almost 40% of business leaders don’t feel well-equipped to enable staff with hearing loss to be productive in the workforce
      • deaf people feel that negative employer attitudes present a major barrier to getting a job, or progressing in their career

      The campaign launch was supported by a number of local employers who have experience of working with staff who have hearing loss, including Belfast City Council, Amadeus Foods, and Business Services Organisation.  

      Ni Advisory Group member and well known businessman, Stephen Kingon, addressing the audience at the Working for Change campaign launch event.

      Action on Hearing Loss surveyed over 600 business leaders across the UK for its Improving attitudes to hearing loss in the workplace report, examining how confident employers are in hiring people with hearing loss, and whether they are prepared to support staff to remain in work as they get older.

      As retirement age is rising, and hearing loss is more prevalent in people over 60, there will be more people with hearing loss in the workforce. Employers will be expected to provide extra support to enable staff to perform effectively and be treated equally.

      A second report from the charity, Inequality of Opportunity, examined the experiences of people with hearing loss in Northern Ireland in getting a job, keeping a job and progressing in their chosen career.

      Common problems experienced include a lack of availability of qualified communication support, lack of information about support available, and lack of understanding of high-level English. The most frequently mentioned barrier to getting a job was employer attitude and a lack of deaf awareness.

      As part of its new campaign Action on Hearing Loss has produced a guide for employers which aims to break down common myths and misconceptions that deaf people are too costly or too dangerous to employ, or that hearing loss will mean that communication will be difficult and that employees will have to give up work.

      Catherine Christie, HR Manager at Belfast City Council, said: “You really see what a person can do when you bring someone with a disability into an organisation and we make whatever reasonable adjustments are required. We can show what a person is actually able to do as opposed to what they’re not and that’s really important.”

      Jackie White, NI Director for Action on Hearing Loss says, ‘We hope that the positive experiences described by employers today about the added value that their staff with hearing loss have given to their team and businesses will provide reassurance to other employers. There is a range of support, including financial support such as the Government Access to Work scheme, to help employers make their workplaces accessible. This issue will become more pertinent as we all stay in work longer and employers need to be prepared.”

      More information on the Working for Change campaign is available at https://www.actiononhearingloss.org.uk/how-we-help/information-and-resources/publications/research-reports/working-for-change-report/

      If you would like information and support to make your workplace accessible for people with hearing loss, contact the Action on Hearing Loss Information Service on 028 9023 9619 or email information.nireland@hearingloss.org.uk .

      ENDS

      Contact for general media enquiries:

      Rebekah McKinstry, PR Officer for Acton on Hearing Loss, telephone: 028 9023 9619 or email: rebekah.mckinstry@hearingloss.org.uk

      Notes for editors:

       

      • Action on Hearing Loss helps people to confront deafness, tinnitus and hearing loss to live the life they choose.  Action on Hearing Loss enables them to take control of their lives and remove the barriers in their way. Action on Hearing Loss gives people support and care, develop technology and treatments, and campaign for equality.