What are my rights to support at work?
Under the Equality Act 2010 (or the Disability Discrimination Act in Northern Ireland), employers have a duty to make reasonable adjustments (changes) for people who have hearing loss, so that they aren't put at a ‘substantial disadvantage’, compared with people who are hearing.
The best way to find out what could help you achieve your potential at work is to ask your employer for a workplace assessment. This is where a specialist visits you at work to assess what simple adjustments, equipment and support you could benefit from. They'll then produce a report containing their recommendations.
Workplace assessments are usually provided by the government scheme Access to Work , but they're also available from specialist providers, such as Action on Hearing Loss. The assessment and the costs for the support and equipment you need can often be paid for through an Access to Work grant.
What is the Access to Work scheme?
The government’s Access to Work scheme provides a grant to pay for practical support and specialist equipment in the workplace for people who have a disability or health condition.
What different types of support and equipment are available?
The different types of support and equipment that could help you in the workplace include:
While hearing aids don’t reverse hearing loss, they can make sounds loud enough for you to hear so you can communicate more easily. You can get digital hearing aids and batteries free from the NHS, or you can buy them privately. Your audiologist (hearing specialist) can tell you whether hearing aids could help you.
There’s a lot of equipment that can help at work, such as:
- listening equipment, including personal listeners and hearing loop and infrared systems (these help you to hear over background noise)
- amplified telephones and textphones
- flashing-light fire alarms.
You can find out more about what specialist equipment may help you in Products and technology to help with hearing loss (at work). You can also download our leaflet Products to help with hearing loss and tinnitus
If you need support to communicate in meetings or take notes at work, there’s a range of services that can help. You shouldn’t have to pay for this support.
If you struggle to follow what’s being said in a large meeting and are comfortable reading English, a speech-to-text reporter (STTR) might be helpful. An STTR types every word that’s spoken and the text appears on a laptop or large screen.
If you lipread, you may benefit from a professional notetaker, who can take notes during meetings while you lipread (you can’t do both at the same time!).
For more information about support available see Communication support
Deaf awareness training
It’s important that your colleagues know how they can support you – for example, by facing you when they speak to you, and speaking clearly, one person at a time. We offer a variety of courses to help workplaces become inclusive of people with hearing loss – if you think that your workplace may benefit from one, mention it to your manager.
To find out more, see Deaf awareness and sign language training
If you are based in Northern Ireland, our Workable Programme can provide one to one support to help you in the workplace, including training and advice about reasonable adjustments.
If you are looking for a job, our Specialist Employment Programme in Northern Ireland and Scotland, and the JobSense programme in Wales, can help you.
For more information about working with your employer to get the support you need to help you at work see Talking to your employer about your hearing loss
For more information about your rights at work see Your rights at work and our factsheet The Equality Act 2010 – your rights as an employee