Overcoming the barriers to work

Our Aspire to Be service is a specialist and innovative provision for adults who are deaf or have learning difficulties to help them into work. There can be numerous challenges our client group face when it comes to employability and this is not helped by the fact that businesses often have preconceived ideas about why they can’t employ the people we support. Here, in our latest blog, Aspire to Be manager, Tina Rafferty, explains how a proactive approach and some simple strategies can really make all the difference.

We have come across numerous reasons from employers about why they don’t think they can provide a person with hearing and learning difficulties a job. Being told it is a health and safety risk is the usual response we get. 

But others include that communication is too difficult and waiting for an interpreter or finding someone skilled who can support when information needs to be passed on is too much of a barrier as well as how the individual involved would feel too isolated and needs to be a team player.

Unfortunately, these a just a few examples but over the many years my team have been working in this field, we have heard every scenario under the sun with regards to the ‘problems’ of employing someone who is deaf or has a learning disability.

However, our team at Aspire to Be are all trained specialists who implement processes and practises to make the transition into employment run smoothly and we do this on daily basis by being creative and proactive and thinking outside the box. We have seen so many success stories where it has worked and not only has the individual really benefitted from being in work, but the employer has reaped the rewards, too.

We find that by everyone involved having an inclusive, can-do, solution-based approach there are no limits and no problems!

What kind of support can Aspire to Be provide?

Aspire to Be is people centred and we pride ourselves on our ability to understand the issues involved from the service users perspective but also the employer we are working with.

We always establish excellent communication with an employer prior to any job start, this usually beings at the application stage. A recent example of this is when an interview offered was over the phone but for those who are deaf/hard of hearing this would have proved impossible so early intervention and a discussion with the interviewee meant we were able to support this and change the process to an email interview. This was reassuring to that particular employer as well because they could see the level of support we give right from the start.

The induction is another area we assist by simplifying text so it is easy for all to read. We adapted a company’s health and safety site induction presentation to make it more deaf friendly by changing certain words so a BSL user could understand. 

In addition, we have provided deaf awareness training to staff to give them a better understanding of ways to communicate if BSL is not used. This could be by writing instructions down or using texts and emails and keeping all wording short and to the point. 

Recently, an employer had an issue with a deaf person lone working so our team were straight into action and suggested using a mobile phone to text and check in. We also worked with a delivery driver who was deaf and found it problematic when trying to ask a neighbour to take a parcel in so we created laminated communication cards that explained who they were and what they wanted. Similarly, for delivering to flats we did a recorded message which they played through the intercom from a mobile phone.

There are so many different ways we support, and it is always based on individual need and showing an employer that you don’t need expensive gadgets or to go through reams of red tape. Simple solutions that work for the individual and business involved can always be found and that is why our team has such a great success record in helping our service users into sustained employment.

We have worked with some great businesses who understand the difference they are making to people’s lives and welcome the opportunity to get involved.

For more information about Aspire to Be please visit: www.deaf-trust.co.uk/employability/, call 01302 386711 or email Julie.wright@cscd.ac.uk.