A YouGov poll conducted for the charity looked into employers’ attitudes to hearing loss demonstrated a lack of confidence amongst businesses when hiring people with hearing loss. It also highlighted a perceived lack of information and advice on supporting people with disabilities in the workplace.
Worryingly, it found that almost two-thirds of business leaders (63%) had never heard of the Government’s Access to Work scheme, a publicly funded employment support programme that aims to help more disabled people start or stay in work by providing practical and financial support where someone needs help or adaptations.
Regarding hearing loss specifically, the research found that over one in three (35%) businesses would not feel confident employing people with hearing loss and over half of respondents (57%) say that there is a lack of support or advice available for organisations when recruiting someone with hearing loss.
The report also highlights a lack of preparation to address the issues of an ageing workforce. Action on Hearing Loss estimates there to be 11 million people in the UK currently living with hearing loss, almost five million of whom are of working age. With people working longer and hearing loss increasing with age, the charity is campaigning to change employer attitudes about hiring people with a hearing loss.
What is surprising is that campaigners will see this as some sort of revelation and not what everyone has known the past 30 years ! Reading some social media responses to what is a run of the mill campaign based on something everyone knew already, is the view employers need 'educating' and to attend seminars on awareness of culture, sign use and to understand who is deaf who is Deaf and who is just someone who cannot hear well. Job creation for the deafies !
If I was an employer my view would be
(A) Is the candidate qualified for the job ?
(B) If the candidate has support needs, will that need make the candidate still viable due to costs, or efficiency in carrying out that job ?
Business isn't a social service. So it would appear the deaf social media addresses neither of those important questions, but suggests some sort of in-house lecture system, to make employers aware of cultural politics, language usages, and protocols, despite the fact the job may entail not using any of those things with the general public, or, their fellow workforce.
It is time we addressed issues of training and education and left the politics behind, because you can be sure no employer will consider these things relevant, or any asset to the job in hand unless dealing with deaf people of same persuasion, (that is mostly charities let's face it).
If we even look at charitable employers, the main one responsible for this survery has no deaf person in any executive position. While it claims to have 11% of its 'workforce' with 'some hearing loss' it is undefined how many are full, part-time, or paid workers. If we look at dedicated sign charities they have all signers in it, but, no membership or support.
While discrimination DOES exist and some ignorance, a lot of deaf people are struggling with the language of mainstream and unable to attain skills or vital training they need. They also need to adapt to constant retraining, and updating literacy qualifications, as mainstream waits for no-one, you keep up or get left behind.
Without those needs and basics being concentrated upon, nothing with change. It will make no difference we complain at all. Rights lobbies only go so far, no-one is going to give you a job just because you can or cannot hear or sign. Those sort of jobs do not exist... It is of concern, reality is being overridden by deaf rights, more concern they don't believe it is an issue in itself.
If your idea of a working life is hoping to serve in a coffee shop, sweeping out toilets or stacking supermarket shelves then this is not a positive aspect to adopt even if mainstream offered it to you. Nor is a reliance on 'disability' funding to enhance the 'Deaf Way'... especially as welfare and disability funding is heading towards zero as we write.
It's easy to blame employers, but perhaps we need to look a lot closer to home as what priorities we really have..... and why deaf and others with hearing loss are not getting jobs.