Systems are in place to identify hearing impairments, but identified individuals remain low

The Department has identified relatively few people in custody with a hearing impairment or disability. While processes are generally in place to identify hearing-impaired individuals, various system limitations and process breakdowns have resulted in few being identified. The introduction of a functional impairment screening tool has assisted in identifying more people.

Supports for the hearing-impaired are available

People in custody with a hearing impairment can access relevant hearing services where a need has been established. This includes referrals to specialists and, in some rare cases, assistance to purchase hearing aids. While the Department does not currently fund in-house or third-party audiology services to routinely screen people in custody, they were exploring new technology which may assist with this in the future. Conversely, Serco – the private operator of Acacia Prison – had begun offering fully-subsidised hearing tests and hearing aids to prisoners since August 2021, under their renewed contract with the Department.

Translators and interpreting services are available for custodial and health staff to help communicate with hearing-impaired people. However, we still found instances where staff or other prisoners were used as informal interpreters or where hand-written notes were used instead.

Video communications, including access to the National Relay Service, are available for social and official visits. Though the Department is yet to implement live captioning technology.

Limited adjustments have been made for the hearing-impaired

We found limited evidence that adjustments had been made to assist hearing-impaired people with daily life inside a custodial facility. Policies often do not take into consideration people with impairments or disabilities, and where they do we found limited evidence they were being followed. Technological solutions to assist hearing-impaired people with audible announcements and group-based activities had not been explored by the Department. Though we found classroom teachers and program facilitators were actively considering hearing impairments and providing assistance to those who needed it.

Page last updated: November 13, 2023
People in custody with a hearing impairment