Hearing impairments can be covered by the Disability Discrimination Act.
The Act makes it against the law to discriminate against a person because of disability. There are some limited exceptions and exemptions.
It is not unlawful to discriminate against an employee on the basis of their disability if the person cannot perform the inherent requirements of a job after reasonable adjustments have been made.
There are, however, a range of adjustments that can be made for a person with a hearing impairment. These include:
- modifying work arrangements, for example, giving a person with a hearing impairment a workspace with minimal background noise
- providing training for staff on effective communication with a person with hearing impairment
- providing equipment such as an audio loop.
Example: An employer withdrew an offer of employment for the role of customer service officer after a hearing test showed the prospective employee had less than 90% hearing. The employer had not made reasonable adjustments to support the prospective employee to do the job. This could be disability discrimination.
The Federal Government can provide financial assistance for workplace modifications with employees with disabilities. See http://jobaccess.gov.au/content/employment-assistance-fund