I have spoken about hearing aid funding in the UK before on Know. In this article, I want to focus on the Access To Work scheme offered by the UK Government. The scheme is designed to ensure that people with disabilities have access to work through funding for equipment or services. When many people hear about the scheme they automatically think wheelchairs. While that may be a part of what is funded, it is certainly not all of it. Many don't realise that the scheme can also fund hearing aid equipment that is needed to allow people with hearing loss have access to work and if in work already, to stay there. Let's talk about Access To Work.
Horrible word disabled, lots of stigma and nasty connotations. Many people with hearing loss don't think of themselves as disabled. However, in the context of the meaning of the word, we are. We have a disability (hearing loss) which gives us a handicap (oh my god I said that word!!!!!). While I don't feel disabled and I know Steve, who has a much worse hearing loss than I, does not feel disabled. We both in fact are, our hearing loss means that we have difficulties over and above people with normal hearing.
That is, in fact, the textbook definition of disability, so, if you have a hearing loss, you are disabled, get over it (Geoff making friends and influencing people, hahahahaha). In the UK, If you’re disabled or have a physical or mental health condition that makes it hard for you to do your job, you have the right to
- talk to your employer about changes they must make in your workplace
- apply for Access to Work if you need extra help
Getting help from Access to Work
Basically, the government wants employers to make reasonable arrangement to ensure you can work, however, If the help you need at work isn’t covered by "reasonable adjustments", you may be able to get funding help from Access to Work.
Most importantly, you need to have a paid job or be about to start or return to one. You also need to have a disability or health condition (physical or mental) that makes it hard for you to do parts of your job or get to and from work. You must be 16 or over and finally, you need to live in England, Scotland or Wales. Northern Ireland is covered by a different system which in essence does the same thing.
Basically, you’ll be offered support based on your needs, which may include a grant to help cover the costs of practical support in the workplace. The Access to Work grant can pay for things like:
- special equipment, adaptations or support worker services to help you do things like answer the phone or go to meetings
- help to get to and from work
This is where it is interesting to people with hearing loss, even if you have NHS or private hearing aids, you can be entitled to funding for additional add-on devices that will make your life easier. You might not get a grant if you already get certain benefits. However, if you get a grant, the money doesn’t have to be paid back and won’t affect your other benefits.
Equipment That Will be Considered
While you might have NHS hearing aids, the Access To Work scheme will pay for any additional equipment you may need to ensure you can work. For instance, the scheme can be used to fund wireless devices like the Roger system from Phonak which includes the Roger Pen, clip-on remote mics and desktop microphones. These devices are excellent to deliver better speech understanding in different situations, the very types of situations you may find yourself struggling in at work.
Every hearing aid brand provides additional wireless accessories that can be exceptionally useful to you during your workday. Phone streamers, remote microphones and audio streamers, all of which can help you in the difficult situations you find yourself in. These are costly enough devices, however, the Access To Work Scheme is set up with exactly these types of aids in mind.
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Posted by Geoff
Geoffrey (Geoff, anything else makes him nervous) Cooling is an Irish hearing aid blogger and has been involved with the hearing aid industry for over ten years. He has worked in private practice dispensing hearing aids and as a manufacturer's rep. He has written two books and they are both available on Amazon. He loves technology, passing on knowledge and is legendary for many other things, primarily the amount he curses, his dry and mischievous sense of humour and his complete intolerance of people who are full of themselves. Please feel free to connect with him
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