Deaf adults at work
Deaf people in a variety of jobs share their experience of the world of work with us, including how their employers and colleagues adapt to their communication needs.
- Will - Graduate business management programme
- Leanne - Admin assistant and SEN coordinator
- Richard - Motorcycle paramedic
- Mark - Dentist
- Charlotte - Customer assistant
- Nick - Senior user experience designer
Will - Graduate business management programme
I’m part of a graduate business management programme at BT because...
I can see different parts of the company. At the moment I work in Strategy and Operations, but I’ll be working with lots of different teams. I love working for a big company where there’s lots to learn.
I was 18 and about to start university when my hearing began deteriorating. A year later I was completely deaf. I’m lucky to have close friends and family who support and encourage me. I’ve also had help from disability advisers, Access to Work, and local and national charities.
I’m profoundly deaf and although I use an auditory brainstem implant (ABI), the help it gives me is limited and I mainly lipread. My manager at BT always makes sure I have the right support. I go to lots of meetings so I use email, instant messenger and remote speech to text reporters who dial in to meetings or telephone calls.
Leanne - Admin assistant and SEN coordinator
I’m an administrative assistant and a special educational needs coordinator at a pre-school because...
I love being organised and challenged. I like talking to people and helping them.
I answer the phone, order stock, meet and greet external clients and take care of photocopying and printing. I also type up and edit reports for children with additional needs.
My first role in childcare was as a play assistant. After three years my hearing loss progressed and I struggled to hear the children in the noisy environment. This made writing observations about them difficult. I explained this to my manager and began my current office-based role instead.
I’d always had a severe, high tone hearing loss, but now my loss is profound. It's hereditary in our family: my son who is seven also has a moderate loss and wears hearing aids.
I’ve never considered myself as disabled and have always asked for help when needed. My hearing loss is part of me, but it doesn't define me or dictate what I can do.
Richard - Motorcycle paramedic
I’m a motorcycle paramedic for the London Ambulance Service because...
It’s a privilege to be able to help people in times of need, especially saving lives.
I respond to 999 calls on a motorcycle, giving medical help to patients with serious or life-threatening injuries or illnesses. The traffic in London can be very congested, meaning ambulances and response cars can’t always reach people quickly. I assess and treat patients until they’re taken to hospital.
I originally wanted to join the armed forces but unfortunately I failed the hearing test. After working as a lifeguard and in residential care homes I decided to become a paramedic. I’ve now been in the job for 15 years.
I was born partially deaf – my hearing loss on one side is caused by oxygen starvation at birth and it’s congenital hearing loss on the other side. I rely on lipreading and my colleagues have always been supportive.
I started learning BSL three years ago, and now use it every day. It’s opened so many doors for me, including making the first BSL video for the London Ambulance Service website.
I’ve been awarded the Chief Ambulance Officer Commendation, NHS Champions Award, Royal Humane Society Velum, AMBEX Care Award, and NHS Heroes award.
Mark - Dentist
I'm a dentist because...
I love the variety of the job and meeting lots of people. When somebody comes to you with a problem, it’s a great feeling to be able to help them.
I tend to see 15-30 patients a day who need a variety of treatment, from check-ups and fillings to more complex restorative work and oral surgery. I also practiced dentistry in Peru for 7 weeks, which was amazing and we also trekked to Macchu Picchu, which was the experience of a lifetime.
I have moderate hearing loss in both ears so throughout school I used hearing aids and a radio aid. Fortunately my parents and my teachers were very supportive, so there was always help when I needed it. Sitting near the front of the class was usually sensible, but with some of the quieter teachers having a radio aid meant I was hearing more than most of the rest of the class! Since university I've worn hearing aids a lot less. I lipread a lot and I find that I can usually manage at work without them now.
The important thing is that the people around you know about your hearing and the little things that can help. I don’t think my hearing has held me back.
Charlotte - Customer assistant
I’m a customer assistant at Marks & Spencer because...
I like working in a small store and being part of a small team. Most of the customers live locally and shop with us regularly so we get to know them.
I began working for M & S on Saturdays when I was at school but left when I went to university. After graduating I realised I wanted a career in retail, so I went back to M & S.
I serve customers at the till and helpdesk, re-stock shelves, do price checks and record product waste. I’m also responsible for the decor at my store.
I use hearing aids and lipread, and my colleagues are all deaf aware. They always make sure I’m included and understand what’s going on. I love talking to customers and showing that being profoundly deaf is not an issue.
I’m now talking to my line manager about how to progress at M&S.
Nick - Senior user experience designer
When I go home and watch the BBC, I can say “That’s my work!” – so many people love the BBC and use its services.
I’m currently working on improving the BBC’s connected red button service on the TV. At the moment all the different products (sport, iPlayer and weather) have a different user interface, which is confusing.
At university I designed an interactive story book that won a national design award. I started my career at Hallmark designing ecards, later moving to a small deaf-led media company. I came to the BBC 10 years ago to work somewhere bigger.
I have a BSL interpreter who translates meetings, phone calls and conference calls. He also makes sure I don’t miss out on office chatter and jokes!
My advice is to find the best communication tool for you – be it a BSL interpreter, lip-speaker or speech to text reporter. Follow your dreams and don’t let anything stop you!