Work and hearing loss

Mick seeks part time work after a period of illness


Our Panel is made up of people who have long standing personal and/or professional experience of hearing loss. They offer practical advice for all kinds of problems. So if there's something on your mind contact us to see if we can help. 

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Mick seeks work after a period of illnessMick from London writes 'I became severely deafened last year due to illness and lost my job as a result.

I’ve recently done some volunteering and I would like to help people with similar experiences to mine but now that my health is improving I’d like to start working part-time.

I have been to the Job Centre and Pathways to Work but basically I’ve been told that I’m better off staying on benefits. I’m 40 and I’ve always worked and I can’t find anyone in my area to give me careers and employment advice. I don’t know where to go next.

Any advice would be welcome.'

The Panel reply


Dear Mick

There are several parts to your question so I think I would start by suggesting you make a list of all the things you think you want to do and then refining it.

As far as I can tell you want to find a job; you want some careers advice; you want employment advice; you want to work part-time; you'd like to help people who've had similar experiences to yours. 

From that list you could draw several strands of possibilities. You will not want to do all of them but they may give you ideas and consolidate what you really want to do. So put each one in the middle of a sheet of paper and draw arrows off it for all the ideas that are related to that one issue. 

For example, if you had part-time in the middle, some of your arrows might lead to 'only work mornings', 'can't work on Friday', 'need to take children to school', 'energy levels'; 'travel time'; 'effect on benefits' etc. Go to a decent library and have a look at books about careers and finding a job and any leaflets offering local services. There will be many tips in there that could help you work out what you want to do. If you want a part-time, local job, then check out all the papers while you're there. 

You want to help people with similar experiences to yours. What are those experiences? Deafened? Illness (general or particular)? Chronic conditions? Disability? People who've lost their jobs? Something related to your previous job? Only you can decide what you would like to do or which kind of work you might fancy so you need to think laterally about what interests you.  Don't restrict yourself at this point about feasibility or your deafness. 

Find out what really interests you. Do you have a hobby or passion for a particular subject that could lead to employment? Or perhaps your own business? What are your skills?  Training? 

Are you better off on benefits, both financially and emotionally? You need to check the financial situation related to this, perhaps by going back to the Job Centre and Pathways to Work and asking them for accurate figures, e.g. how many hours can you work before benefits are affected? If you're not already seeing the Disability Advisor at the JC, then you need to make an appointment.  

Spend some time on the internet checking the various government and independent sites related to employment and benefit advice. Remember that some benefits are gateways to other things e.g. reduced rate on training courses - BSL? So consider them too. This information is subject to frequent change so you need to check what's most up to date.

Check out all the disability websites as many will offer information and advice. Sign up to charityjob.co.uk and any other sites that offer the kind of work you're interested in, e.g. Guardian jobs, deaf-uk-jobs and any other newspaper job sites. Go to any and all advice centres (plenty of those in London) and ask if they can signpost you. But you need to know where you're going first! 

Once you've worked out your area of interest, target companies, (voluntary, statutory or private) in that area and contact them speculatively. You'll need a decent letter and an up to date CV. Again, plenty of books in the library (or online) with information on this. If you do need further skills, think about getting what you need. Could those skills be provided by an organisation that you volunteer for? What about companies that sign up to the two ticks disability scheme? 

If you think you might want to set up your own business, contact Business Link. 

What was your previous job? Is there any way back into that or similar kind of work? You don't give any details about why you lost your job. You might want to contact community legal advice to check out your rights www.communitylegaladvice.org.uk  It may be that your previous employers would take you back part-time now that your health is improving but you have to make the ask. 

As a deafened person, you may need support at work and Access to Work is there for that. You can have communication support at interviews and re-assure prospective employers that you can do the job. 

Make sure you have a Freedom pass for free travel in London (contact London councils or your own local authority) and perhaps buy a disabled rail pass www.disabledpersons-railcard.co.uk You're only 40 and you live in London so two big advantages there. 

Lastly, it's only been a year since this massive change in your life so congratulations on your positivity - but don't push yourself too hard, too soon. 

All the best, Fiona 

Dear Mick

You’ve had some very hard knocks recently. It’s excellent you’re now strong enough to want to go back into paid employment.  You’ve already discovered that the route back to work will not be easy – but the law, in the form of the Equality Act 2010, is on your side and there are many success stories of deafened people keeping or finding satisfactory employment.

Check out the Manage>Work and Education section of the Hearing Link website. Read Working Without Hearing: How to keep your job or find another one when you have become profoundly deaf by Mark Weston (contact Hearing Link for a copy).

Contact a Disability Employment Adviser: phone the National Switchboard who will put you in touch with your local Jobcentre Plus to arrange an initial interview (Telephone: 0845 604 3719; Textphone: 0845 608 8551) As preparation, read up about their services before the meeting.

Keep an open mind. If returning to similar employment as pre-deafness is not a realistic goal, consider all your transferable skills and qualities and look at retraining.

Once you’re in employment again, seek out and use the services to support you. You have rights. Employers have responsibilities. Many firms have equal opportunities policies and some demonstrate that they are particularly positive about employing and retaining disabled people. Look out for the two ticks symbols on job adverts, which highlights employers who have a positive attitude to applications from disabled people.

If possible, keep up some voluntary work whilst pursuing your job search – it helps top up your self-esteem, confidence and people skills. If you haven’t already done so, consider applying for Hearing Link’s Intensive Programme. This may well provide the broad based support, information and inspiration to carry you on through the next part of your life as a deafened person.

There will be a job out there which needs you - and support to help you find and keep it - but meanwhile, if you feel like letting off steam about the frustrations you’re currently facing, why not write to Hearing Link Patron and MP Stephen Lloyd, Vice Chair of the All Parliamentary Group on Deafness, c/o Hearing Link?

Wishing you all the success you clearly deserve, Ann


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Meet the Panel

Ann Thallon gives advice on hearing loss problems

Ann Thallon has a moderate hearing loss and tinnitus, which began in her thirties. Until her recent retirement, she was a teacher working with teenagers with additional support needs. She is a member of the Steering Group for the Scottish Branch of Hearing Link and is a facilitator for the Self Management Course.

Fiona Pickett gives advice on hearing loss problems

Fiona Pickett trained as a lipreading teacher and has run several deaf awareness courses. She has had a hearing loss for 10 years due to Meniere's.

Hearing Link Registered Charity Number 264809 Registered Charity Number in Scotland SC037688