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Negative employment consequences of hiding your hearing loss

Negative employment consequences of hiding your hearing loss

Editor: It’s not news that failing to be upfront about your hearing loss is a bad idea, but it’s good to have an occasional reminder! This story from hear-it.org provides some interesting examples and research results. For additional hearing loss news, do check out www.hear-it.org


October 2011

Many people with hearing loss choose to keep their problems to themselves, and therefore do not get the support and help in the workplace that they require. This can lead to early retirement.

A study carried out by members of Action on Hearing Loss (formerly know as RNID), an UK organisation for the hard of hearing, shows that many hearing impaired people are not open about their hearing loss. Just under half of the respondents have told their colleagues about their hearing loss and even fewer, 37%, have chosen to tell their employer. A further one-third of respondents did not tell anyone at work.

A study, carried out by Hear-it AISBL in March and April 2011, shows similar results. It shows that only 39% are open about their hearing loss when it comes to colleagues and acquaintances. 20% of those who participated in the survey said that they try to keep it to themselves and more than 16% said “I keep it to myself”.

The results suggest that some people do not feel able to speak to their collages or employer, and as a result they don’t request the adjustments that could improve their situation in terms of managing hearing loss at work. According to Action on Hearing Loss (RNID) this is alarming.

Hearing loss affects self-confidence and many feel embarrassed

40% of respondents in the RNID Annual Survey agreed that losing their hearing had made them feel less confident at work and 34% said that hearing loss had made them feel less confident about taking on new work or responsibilities. According to the report, many experience isolation and a feeling of being unappreciated.

The Hear-it AISBL study showed, that 43% are a little embarrassed about their hearing loss and 28% are very embarrassed. Only 28% are not embarrassed about their hearing loss.

Kim Ruberg, secretary general of Hear-it AISBL, says: “I can only encourage all hearing impaired people to be open about their hearing loss. You will experience a much better life if you are open about your reduced hearing. When people know you have a hearing loss, they normally show respect towards you.”

Early retirement

Experiencing difficulties at work due to hearing loss may lead people to consider taking early retirement. The RNID-report shows, that more than 36% of those who took early retirement said that this was related to their hearing loss in some way.

Therefore it is very important, that people feel able to approach their employer, so that they can access the support they are entitled to. It is significant that the government promotes these initiatives so that the employers and the employees are aware of their responsibilities and the available support, the RNID Annual Report 2010 says.