Supported Internships

We are the first Deaf education provider in the UK to set up Supported Internships. Our aim as a post-16 provision is to prepare our students for working life; to help them achieve their best in education and to make the progression to employment.

Supported Internships are a structured study programme based primarily with an employer. They enable young people aged 16-24 with a statement of Special Educational Needs, or an Education, Health and Care plan to achieve sustainable employment by equipping them with the skills they need for work, through learning in the workplace. Supported Internships are unpaid, and last for a minimum of six months.

Wherever possible, they support the young person to move into paid employment at the end of the programme. Alongside their time at the employer, young people complete a personalised study programme which includes the chance to study for relevant substantial qualifications, if appropriate, as well as English and maths.

Read college student Declan's story here.

What are we hoping to achieve by offering Supported Internships?

• To educate and support current employees to ensure that the Deaf employee has equal access to the workplace
• To increase the diversity of the workforce
• To raise employer awareness of the support available through Access to Work and the Disability Confident scheme
• To build links between Exeter Deaf Academy and the community

Why give a Deaf person a chance?

Often, employers do not understand how to accommodate people with different abilities, fearing (incorrectly) that it will be costly or complicated. More importantly, they do not understand the value that people who are deaf bring to the team. Below are just a few of the many excellent reasons to include people who are Deaf/hard of hearing in any organisation.

People who are deaf spend much of their lives finding ways to adapt within a hearing culture. Because of this, Deaf employees may exhibit impressive patience and flexibility in the face of challenges.

People who are deaf become talented at bridging communication and cultural gaps in everyday situations. This can translate into strong problem solving and interpersonal skills.

Deaf employees bring a unique perspective to the team. Because their background and life experiences are inevitably different from their hearing colleagues’, an individual who is eaf/hard of hearing might suggest services, features, or marketing ideas that other employees would never have even considered.

Safe and reliable
Studies have shown that workers with disabilities are viewed as dependable, loyal, and responsible. They also tend to have overall positive job performance ratings. One study found that Deaf/hard of hearing employees achieve among the highest safety ratings in the workforce!

Hard workers

Since Deaf job candidates often face discriminatory hiring practices, it can be a challenge just to get a foot in the door. Deaf employees tend to work hard to secure their position and seek opportunities for career advancement.

A workplace that employs Deaf individuals can enrich the culture of their entire organisation! Adding diversity provides all employees the opportunity to work on effective communication and cooperation skills, while challenging people to explore new perspectives. With proper cultural competency training, each individual in an organisation can learn to become more compassionate, open-minded, and willing to go the extra mile for the team.

Common fears about hiring people who are Deaf are usually unfounded. Those worried about cost should know that most Deaf employees will have Access to Work funding which will provide communication support or equipment to help the employee in the work place.

There are plenty of resources available for employers who have questions about integrating a Deaf individual into the workplace. Ultimately, the best way to work out what accommodations a Deaf person needs and prefers is to simply ask them! Employers should ensure that they treat eaf employees with respect, communicate with them as professional colleagues, and don’t leave them out of work-related social situations (such as lunches and parties). Managers will need a basic foundation of knowledge about deafness and Deaf communication to help everyone develop a comfortable working dynamic. 

To find out more about offering a supported internship, please contact:

Mark Stocks, Assistant Principal
Sarah Ankers, Occupational Therapist
Emma Bird, Work Related Learning Coordinator

01392 267023