Deaf news: Deaf diplomat quits glittering career over refusal to pay for lipspeaker

Posted on March 27, 2012

Jane Cordell, the deaf diplomat who lost an employment tribunal and then an appeal against the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s decision to withdraw a prestigious posting to Kazakhstan, has given up her career as a result.

The FCO ruled that the cost of providing lipspeaking support (where speech is translated via clear lip patterns so the deaf person can lipread a professional lipspeaker) on that posting was prohibitive – even though Cordell had been previously supported on a posting to Poland.

An article in the Manchester Evening News quotes Cordell as saying:

“I was devastated and shocked. Competition in the FCO is very fierce, especially for foreign postings. This was a key career opportunity in a difficult and interesting posting, which I had won on merit. I wanted to be an ambassador. I knew that I would have been a good one and had been encouraged in that ambition by several other ambassadors. This was a huge career progression for me and I suffered a huge career drop because I was denied that job.”

Cordell, who now works for Action on Hearing Loss also said: “The way I was treated meant I could not have faith in them to be a fair employer nor to offer a work environment in which I could develop and thrive.”

The article also quotes a Foreign and Commonwealth Office spokesman’s response:

“The FCO is fully committed to equality of opportunity and to making reasonable adjustments to allow disabled staff to enjoy the fullest possible FCO career. In this case, we do not believe the adjustments that would have been required – costing in excess of £500,000 over two years – would by any measure be considered reasonable. An employment tribunal agreed with our assessment, though we regret this issue had to come to legal action.”

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