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Deaf-specific careers advice

Photo: It may be useful to read about the jobs other deaf young people do

Deaf people can do most jobs with reasonable adjustments or communication support put in place.

There is lots of information about different jobs and careers online. These are a few websites you may find useful:

  • Prospects have careers advice, job profiles and guidance about applying to university and further study. They also have quizzes to match you to different jobs and help plan your career.
  • Career Pilot have information and tools for 11-19 year olds. They have information about the different options available to you at each stage and activities and quizzes to help you think about different types of jobs.
  • CareerHacker is a resource for young people to help you make informed decisions about your future. Their advice hub has helpful tips and guidance to help you get ready for work. They also have career profiles and information about how to get there.

With so much information available it can sometimes feel like too much and it is hard to take it all in. This is where a careers advisor can help.

Careers advisors are trained to understand the range of jobs available and what qualifications are needed to get the job. They can help you to explore your options and make decisions about what you want to do in the future.  

Your school or college should arrange at least one meeting with a careers advisor. Your school or college should also arrange careers activities such as employer visits, work experience or careers fairs. However, not all schools or colleges do this.

The National Careers Service can also put you in contact with a careers advisor. They have a webchat service and link to the different careers services in England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales.

Some careers advisors don’t know a lot about the jobs deaf people can do or what support is available to deaf people at work. Sometimes, you can get bad advice and be told deaf people can’t do things they can like apprenticeships or go to university. Understanding your rights can help. If this happens to you please contact our Helpline for further advice and support.

Deaf people can do most jobs with reasonable adjustments or communication support put in place. We have stories from lots of deaf people who do all kinds of jobs.

The law says employers must make reasonable adjustments and are not allowed to treat you unfairly or turn you down for a job just because you are deaf.

Deaf people can have communication support (for example, BSL interpreters or palantypists) at work paid for by the Government’s Access to Work scheme.

We have more information about your rights at work. If you think you’ve been treated unfairly by an employer, please contact our Helpline for further advice and support.

There are a small number of jobs that some deaf people are stopped from doing because you need to pass a medical exam which includes a hearing test.

These jobs can include:

  • the armed forces – army, navy and air force
  • police officers
  • commercial airline pilots
  • railway engineers
  • seafarers (jobs working on a boat or ship).

If you are interested in one of the jobs above, check the rules as different jobs have different reqirements – some state that you need to hear sounds at a particular level without a hearing aid. Others say you need to be able to hear speech with a hearing aid on.

The armed forces are the only exception to the laws set out in the Equality Act and the Disability Discrimination Act (Northern Ireland). Everyone working within the armed forces must be trained to use a weapon and be able to be deployed to a conflict zone. This includes all roles, whether it is an administration role or a physical training instructor. In conflict situations reasonable adjustments are not an option.

All other employers are still expected to make reasonable adjustments. Any other employer would need to have a very good reason to turn you down for a job because you are deaf.

Some employers aren’t deaf aware and think health and safety laws mean they can’t employ deaf people to do some jobs. Apart from the small number of jobs listed above, there are no health and safety laws that prevent deaf people from working. For more information about health and safety and disabilities see the Health and Safety Executive guidance.

If you think you’ve been turned down for a job because of your deafness please contact our Helpline for further advice and support.