27th June to the 3rd July is Deafblind awareness week, a subject which we think matters in accountancy.
Around 15 million people are affected by sound or hearing loss in the UK. And we can be absolutely certain that some of those are talented accountants with a lot of skills and experience to offer the industry.
It’s also a requirement for every accountancy employer to ensure they do not discriminate in any way against members of the deaf and blind community as these are protected characteristics as defined by The Equality Act of 2010.
And contrary to general opinion, employing accountants with sound or hearing loss isn’t time consuming or an additional HR or logistical headache.
But like many issues that affect equality and diversity in the workplace, one of the major factors reducing the opportunities for deaf or blind accountants is the fear of getting it wrong.
So here’s some advice on how you can make your recruitment process and workplace accessible for the deaf or blind community.
Offer to make reasonable adjustments.
These are simple and inexpensive changes that you can make to your application and interview process as well as your job description or workplace and operational accessibility.
Here’s some examples:
- A sight impaired accountant may benefit from some simple changes to your lighting in your interview room.
- You might consider adjustments to your workplace that would allow a Guide Dog to accompany a candidate to interview
- A deaf accountancy candidate may benefit from an alternative seating layout at interview to allow them to lip read.
But some adjustments are expensive and take more planning. But the great news is that in most cases they are always worthwhile and most firms can benefit from financial support via the Government’s Access to Work scheme.
Adjustments that requite a little more investment might be:
- Offering a private working space to allow for a more optimal working condition for deaf or blind accountants.
- Specialist software to allow for audio or visual impairments.
- Support with travel to and from work.
There’s also a wealth of information available on the internet to help you recruit and employ accountants who are deaf or blind and a great accountancy recruiter will ensure you know where to look.
The Royal National Institute for the Blind has a page of helpful resources to support employers to produce application forms and interviews for the visually impaired. It also offers HR support to hiring firms when it comes to workplace accessibility, retention, training and development and technological resources.
And for those with audio impairments, the Royal National Institute for the Deaf offers a similar suite of information and advice.
In our experience those who need additional support in the workplace won’t enter into it expecting their employer to be experts in what adjustments they might need from the get go. But what they do reasonably expect is to be given the chance to work together to create a suitable working environment and situation in which they can showcase their skills. As an employer if you don’t know how best to support a member of staff with additional needs, the first person to ask is just that person!
So this Deafblind Awareness Day we’re calling on the accountancy sector to do what they can to support our community of affected accountants. Mathematical prowess does not require perfect sight or hearing so let’s not forget the incredible contribution of the Deaf and Blind community and let us collectively ensure they are given every opportunity to succeed in our sector.
For advice on how to create an inclusive recruitment strategy make sure you trust the experts. Public Practice Recruitment Ltd have a wealth of experience in supporting firms across the country to create diverse and successful workforces and we’d be delighted to help you too.