People who are deaf or living with a hearing impairment may experience a number of barriers to finding work such as communication issues, employer attitudes and access to workplace modifications.
If you are living with a hearing impairment, support is available to help you find work and thrive in the workplace.
In this guide, we discuss how to look for work, apply for jobs and manage in the workplace when you are living with complete or partial hearing loss. We answer questions such as:
- Can people who are deaf work?
- What are the best jobs for people with hearing loss?
- How can people with a hearing impairment access employment support?
What is deafness/hearing loss?
Hearing loss covers a wide spectrum of severity ranging from mild to moderate, severe and profound. The most common types of hearing loss are:
- Conductive hearing loss – this occurs when sound cannot reach the inner ear, usually due to obstruction or trauma.
- Sensorineural hearing loss – this occurs when there is a problem with the inner ear or the nerve which sends messages about sound to the brain.
- Mixed hearing loss – this is hearing loss due to a combination of conductive and sensorineural causes.
People may be born with a hearing impairment or acquire it later in life. Some hearing impairments can be treated with surgery or hearing aids, but not all can.
Depending on the type, severity and how long a person has lived with a hearing impairment, it may affect their ability to work. Although the experience is different for everyone, some people with a hearing impairment may have concerns about communication and workplace accessibility.
Can people who are deaf work?
People living with complete or partial hearing loss can thrive in the workplace, just like anyone else.
At APM we believe everyone has the right to a safe, accessible and fair workplace. With the right support and workplace adjustments, people with hearing impairments can perform just as well as hearing people in a wide range of job roles.
Employers may be eligible for funding from the Government for workplace modifications to help people with hearing loss feel confident in their job.
At APM, we think everyone deserves to experience the benefits of work. Having a job in a supportive work environment can help you feel empowered and give you a sense of purpose and financial freedom.
If you want to work but are finding it hard to get a job, we can help. Chat with us today about how Disability Employment Services can help you kickstart your journey to meaningful employment.
Jobs for people who are deaf or hard of hearing
Just like anyone else, people who are deaf or hard of hearing can thrive in a large range of industries and job types from highly skilled to unskilled roles. It’s important to look for work that suits your interests, skills and abilities. Highly skilled roles may require you to further your education at TAFE or University.
If you have experienced hearing loss later in life and cannot continue in your current role, you may be able to transfer your skills and experience to a new role.
Many jobs can be easily adjusted to better suit your communication needs such as providing written instructions instead of verbal or communicating via instant messaging rather than phone calls.
Speaking with an APM Employment Consultant can help you identify job types that might be a good fit for you. An Employment Consultant may also be able to help you access training to increase your employability.
Read about how we helped Chanay find a job that has helped boost her confidence.
For more information about the types of jobs that might suit you, check out our list of top 10 jobs for people with a hearing impairment.
How to find job opportunities
There are many ways to start searching for jobs. These include:
- Employment websites – Job search websites like JobSeeker, Indeed and Seek have thousands of job opportunities that you can filter using specific search terms.
- Industry specific employment websites – Some job search websites are specific to a particular industry. You might find job opportunities on these that aren’t listed elsewhere. For example, Healthcare Australia lists jobs in the healthcare industry.
- Company websites – If you want to work for a particular company, you can look for job opportunities on their website, usually on a 'careers' or 'work for us' page.
- Networking – Many jobs aren’t advertised online but are filled by word of mouth. Tell people you know that you are looking for a job. You can also use websites like LinkedIn and Facebook to connect with people and spread the word that you are looking for work.
- Approaching an employer directly – If you want to work for a particular business, you may wish to approach them directly and ask if they have any job openings. Be prepared to explain why you’d be a great fit for their business.
- Disability Employment Services – You could be eligible for Disability Employment Services, a government funded program which helps people with injury, illness or disability find and keep work. When you register with APM a dedicated Employment Consultant will work closely with you to find suitable job opportunities. They can also help you prepare your resume, get ready for a job interview and access any other support you might need.
Find out more about finding job opportunities by reading APM’s guide on how to find a job.
Tips for applying for jobs
When you are applying for a job, it’s important to put your best foot forward and show the employer why you’d be a great candidate for the role.
Two of the most important documents you will send to the employer are your cover letter and your resume which is sometimes called a curriculum vitae or CV.
Your cover letter should give a brief introduction to who you are, why you want to work for the employer and why you’d be perfect for the job. This is usually the first experience an employer will have of you so it’s important to write in an engaging way.
Your resume should include personal contact information as well as details about your education, qualifications, past job experience and skills. You should tailor your resume to the specific job you are applying for. Look at the job listing for keywords and key skills that the employer is looking for.
For more practical tips, read APM’s guide to writing a persuasive resume and cover letter.
Job interviews for people with hearing loss
Job interviews can make everyone feel nervous, but for people with complete or partial hearing loss, concerns about communication and accessibility can make job interviews even more daunting.
If you need advice or assistance preparing for an interview, an APM Employment Consultant can give you the support you need. We can also help you access an interpreter and funding for the interpreter if you need.
If the interview is being conducted remotely, you may wish to request a video or written interview instead of a phone interview.
The most important thing is to be prepared for your interview. In the days leading up to the interview make sure you research the company and the job role. Think about the strengths and skills you can bring to the role, and prepare some real life examples as evidence.
Many employers do not know how people who are deaf can work or perform job tasks. You may need to explain how you will be able to complete the essential job tasks. If you use any assistive technologies, you may wish to demonstrate how they work during the interview.
For more advice about interviewing successfully, read APM’s job interview tips.
Managing in the workplace for people with a hearing impairment
Everyone’s needs in the workplace are different. People who are deaf or have a hearing impairment may have different preferred communication methods including lip reading, Auslan, written communication or a combination of methods.
For a person who is hard of hearing, a hearing aid may help them feel confident in the workplace. For most people with a hearing impairment, adequate lighting is important so that they can clearly see their colleagues’ faces when they communicate.
Your employer may be eligible for government funding to implement workplace modifications so that you can do your job well. At APM, we can help you communicate with your employer so that you get the support you need.
The National Relay Service (NRS) is a free service that can help a person who is deaf to communicate with a hearing person via phone.
Another similar service is the Video Relay Service (VRS). The VRS can help a person who is deaf and speaks Auslan to make phone calls to hearing people.
Other workplace adjustments may include:
- Hiring an interpreter for social events or meetings
- Brighter office lighting
- Communication methods other than audio for work meetings such as videos with captions, handouts, whiteboards etc.
- Instant messaging rather than phone calls
- Teleflash – a light on a telephone that flashes when it’s ringing
- Captioning and real time captioning
- Assistive listening systems
- Improved office layout to make communication easier for people who are hard of hearing
Need a little help? APM is here for you.
If you’re living with complete or partial hearing loss and are having trouble finding work, we can help. When you register for Disability Employment Services with APM, one of our Employment Consultants can help you with:
- Finding suitable job opportunities
- Applying for jobs and writing your resume
- Preparing for interviews and accessing an interpreter
- Ongoing workplace support in your new job
- Accessing workplace modifications
Ready to get to work? Register today and let’s get started!