Discrimination plays a large part in the working lives of deaf people and many are forced to quit their jobs because of it, according to a new survey.
The survey, created by totaljobs in partnership with five deaf charities, reveals that the majority (56%) of deaf or hard of hearing employees have experienced discrimination during their career. This has led to one in four (25%) deaf people leaving a job because of a difficult environment.
Discrimination was most likely to come from colleagues (62%), and then from management (53%). More than one third of deaf jobseekers (37%) have faced discrimination as early as the interview stage.
While the vast majority (74%) of deaf people feel confident they have the right skills to look for work, almost the same number (72%) has received no support because of being deaf in finding a job. Furthermore, only 13% believe there is enough support available to help deaf people to look for work.
1 in 4 (25%) workers state there is no provision for deaf employees at their workplace and nearly half (47%) said that they did not receive support and guidance from their employer for issues related to being deaf. Moreover, almost one in five (19%) people have not told their employer they are deaf or have experienced hearing loss.
These figures are fuelled by an absence of understanding across UK businesses with one third (34%) of deaf people claiming lack of deaf awareness as the biggest challenge facing deaf people in the workplace.
John Salt, totaljobs group sales director, said: “Sadly, discrimination in the workplace can be compounded by a lack of awareness and support from employers. But the benefits of providing this support are obvious. Inclusive employers that engage diverse workforces tap into a broad talent pool with skills, abilities and experience that bring fresh perspective and benefits to the business.”
Gary Cottrell, acting chief executive of SignHealth, said: “SignHealth was delighted to support this important survey. The results reveal the significant barriers deaf people face, both in the workplace and when trying to find employment. Employers have much to gain from the considerable talents and abilities of deaf people. We hope the report will help highlight the discrimination experienced by deaf people and encourage employers to improve their procedures.”
Janis McDonald, chief officer and spokesperson for the Scottish Council on Deafness, said: “SCoD welcomes the interest in deaf issues, particularly those related to employability. Deaf people in Scotland experience many of the issues, such as discrimination, that have been highlighted in this survey. We remain positive about the future of deaf people in employment. However, employers need to improve their deaf awareness to ensure they fully consider reasonable adjustments and take fairer action that creates an inclusive and productive workplace for all employees.”
Dr Terry Riley OBE. chair of the British Deaf Association, said: “The survey clearly shows a lack of support for Deaf people in employment. We must make sure more employers and Deaf employees are fully aware of the availability of Access to Work which is vital in helping Deaf people reach their full potential at work. Also they are valuable contributors to the economy, and must be seen as equals in the workplace and society, it is clear that a national awareness campaign about Access to Work is required”
Rob Burley, head of public affairs and campaigns at Action on Hearing Loss, said: “We know that people with hearing loss face significant barriers when looking for work. It’s imperative that employers change their attitudes towards both employing people who are deaf or hard of hearing and to supporting those already in the workforce who may have, or might develop, a hearing loss. We are delighted to have worked with totaljobs to raise awareness of the challenges that people with a hearing loss face when trying to find employment and when in the workplace.”
The Limping Chicken is the world's most popular Deaf blog, and is edited by Deaf journalist and filmmaker Charlie Swinbourne.
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