Belfast Telegraph

Good voice for the hard of hearing

Question: One of my staff has recently developed a hearing disability. I really do not want to lose this person, but am afraid the disability will impose an extra burden on my business. Is there any help out there to assist me to keep this person in employment?

Vincent Donnelly, deputy principal in the Department for Employment and Learning's Disablement Advisory Service (DAS), replies:

Yes, there is help available. DAS, as part of the employment Service in Northern Ireland, provides support to employers to help them recruit people with health issues or disabilities and enable them to retain employees who become sick or disabled in their jobs.

DAS has in place formal contracts with various disability specific organisations in order to provide expert help, advice and guidance to both disabled employees and their employers.

In the case of people with a hearing disability, DAS has a contract with Royal National Institute for the Deaf (RNID) which can provide technical advice and make recommendations with regard to equipment that would be available to help retain a hearing disabled person in employment.

Also available through DAS is the Access to Work (AtW) programme. This programme can help employers who wish to recruit or retain people with disabilities in employment. AtW also assists people with disabilities who wish to take up work, or who are already in employment and are experiencing difficulties related to their disability.

Support may include the provision of a support worker, provision of equipment and when necessary the adaptation of premises.

For deaf or hearing disabled people who are attending a job interview, AtW can pay for communication support at the interview.

Assistance through other programmes may also be available.

Additional information, current eligibility conditions and details of how to access assistance is available by contacting the employment advisers in the pathways to work teams based in local Jobs and Benefits Offices/JobCentres.

Information may also be obtained through the DEL website - www.delni.gov.uk - or through the employment section on www.nidirect.gov.uk.

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