Employment, education and training rights with sensory loss

Employment, education and training rights with sensory loss

If you’re currently in employment your sight or hearing loss does not mean you have to stop working or studying. Use the links below to jump to most useful information or scroll to read this page in full.

Employment rights

Access to work

Education and training rights

Definition of Disability 

The Equality Act states that a person is disabled if you have a physical or mental impairment that has a ‘substantial’ and ‘long-term’ negative effect on your ability to do normal daily activities. 

  • Long term – means it has lasted for 12 months, or is likely to last for more than 12 months or for the rest of your life 
  • Substantial – means it is not a trivial problem. It has a negative impact on your ability to carry out day to day tasks such as getting dressed. 

For more information on the definition of disability please visit www.gov.uk


Employment rights 


Sight loss is considered a disability under equality legislation.  

If your hearing loss doesn’t affect your day to day life, it’s unlikely that you’ll be protected by the Equality Act. But if your hearing loss has a substantial effect on your ability to carry out normal day to day activities, you’ll be protected. 

If you are covered by the Act, you’ll also be protected against discrimination (including the failure to make reasonable adjustments), harassment and victimisation.  

Employers are not allowed to discriminate against someone based on their disability. Under the Equality Act, employers and organisations have a responsibility to make sure that disabled people can access jobs, education and services as easily as non-disabled people. This is known as the ‘duty to make reasonable adjustments’. For someone experiencing sight or hearing loss, this means that it is unlawful to discriminate against or dismiss someone on the grounds of disability, and instead, requires employers to make changes in the workplace to meet a person’s specific needs. 

Disabled people can experience discrimination if the employer or organisation doesn’t make a reasonable adjustment. This is known as a ‘failure to make reasonable adjustments’. 

You should not assume that you need to resign from your job.  Equipment and support is available that can enable you to remain in your current job. If you cannot perform this job anymore, there may be other suitable jobs that you could do in your organisation. It’s important to talk to your employer to discuss your options. They may need some help to understand your needs and the adjustments they need to make. 


Support available

If you’re experiencing difficulties with your work, there are organisations that may be able to help you, such as:



How the government Access to Work scheme can help you 

The government’s Access to Work scheme provides practical and financial support for disabled people in work or starting a new job. 

It provides grants towards any extra employment costs that result from a disability, including special aids and equipment, staff to support you do your work and travel to work.  

Access to Work helpline:

Telephone: 0800 121 7479  

Textphone: 0800 121 7579  

NGT text relay (if you cannot hear or speak on the phone): 18001 then 0800 121 7479  

Open Monday to Friday, 8am to 7.30pm 


Access to work case Study 

"At the age of 15, I changed from being fully sighted to having no central vision and limited peripheral vision. I was determined that losing my sight wasn’t going to dictate how I lived my life. What drove me the most was making sure I finished my education and got a job. I was unsure about how I could perform most jobs.

The ‘Access to Work’ scheme gave me confidence that I would get the support I needed to get to work and to do the job. Now, four years after leaving University, I have always been in work. It hasn’t been easy, but I try to keep positive and have a smile on my face. Life is there to be enjoyed, so make the most of it".  Josh. 


Education and training rights 

It’s against the law for a school or other education provider to discriminate against disabled students.

An education provider has a duty to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ to make sure disabled students are not discriminated against. These changes could include providing extra support and aids (like specialist teachers or equipment). 

All universities and higher education colleges should have a person in charge of disability issues that you can talk to about the support they offer. 

Need more information?

Contact Community Health and Social Care Direct

Email: scd@newcastle.gov.uk

Phone: 0191 2788377

Mobile: 0796 8474891

Fax: 0191 278 8312

Address: Community Health and Social Care Direct, 2nd Floor, Westgate Community Complex, West Road, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE4 9LU

Opening hours: Monday to Friday, 8am to 5pm

Helpline outside normal hours: 0191 278 7878

Contact the Emergency Duty Team for out of office hours support: 5pm to 8.45am on weekdays and 24 hours at weekends

Report abuse or neglect: 0191 278 8156


Access to Work helpline:

Telephone: 0800 121 7479  

Textphone: 0800 121 7579  

NGT text relay (if you cannot hear or speak on the phone): 18001 then 0800 121 7479  

Opening hours: Monday to Friday 8am to 7.30pm 

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