Finding out about communication needs and making any required adjustments for the interview will ensure candidates with hearing loss aren’t unfairly disadvantaged.
Under the Equality Act 2010, or the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 in Northern Ireland, employers are required to provide reasonable adjustments to ensure that candidates who are deaf or have hearing loss are not put at a substantial disadvantage compared to candidates who are hearing.
Every person who is deaf or has hearing loss is different, so always ask what adjustments – if any – they need.
- Make sure the applicant knows what to expect on the day, so they can let you know whether adjustments are needed. For example, let them know whether a group exercise, written test or presentation is provided.
- Ensure that any required adjustments is in place, for example a sign language interpreter, speech-to-text reporter or hearing loop system. Demand for communications professionals is extremely high, so make sure you book a communication support service early as possible.
Please note: If you are booking a sign language interpreter, to ensure quality, you must book a professional who is registered with either the National Registers of Communication Professionals working with Deaf and Deafblind people (NRCPD) or the Scottish Association of Sign Language Interpreters (SASLI) in Scotland.
If a candidate needs a communication professional, such as a sign language interpreter, they will likely be able to obtain funding for this through Access to Work.
Tips to make interviews accessible
Here are some general ways you can make your interviews accessible for people with hearing loss:
- Enable lipreading: make sure the lighting in the interview room is good so that the candidate can clearly see the interviewer’s lips. The applicant should not be facing a window, as this puts the interviewer’s face in shadow. Check with the candidate that the seating arrangement works for them.
- Give the candidate the interview questions on paper, just before the interview starts.
- Provide a hearing loop system if the candidate requires one.
- Face the candidate, speak clearly without exaggerating your lip movement and avoid covering your mouth. Remember that the candidate can’t see your face to lipread while you are writing notes.
- If you’re using a sign language interpreter, remember to address questions to the candidate, not their interpreter.
Asking the candidate about their hearing loss
Under the Equality Act 2010, or the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 in Northern Ireland, you can’t ask someone about their hearing loss at the interview, although there are a couple of exceptions to this (for more details, see the EHRC’s website). You should ask the applicant about their abilities to do the job, not about whether their hearing loss will mean they can’t do it. Keep in mind that, with support, hearing loss needn’t be a barrier to people carrying out most jobs.