There are five million working-age people in the UK with some form of hearing loss. That’s around 12 in every 100 employees impacted by hearing loss in the workplace.
It takes 10 years on average for somebody working with hearing loss to speak out and seek help. Many people try to hide it for fear of stigma and discrimination. However, deafness and hearing loss do not limit anyone’s ability to excel at their job. In order for staff to thrive, it’s important to understand the impact of hearing loss in the workplace and how simple adjustments can help.
There are four different levels of hearing loss: mild, moderate, severe and profound. All levels of hearing loss can make communication a challenge at work without the right support.
- Mild hearing loss – Employees will find it tricky to follow quiet conversations and struggle to hear when there’s background noise. They may or may not use hearing aids. Assistive technology, such as a conversation listener or amplified phone, will help them communicate more easily.
- Moderate hearing loss – It’s likely that employees with moderate hearing loss will use hearing aids, but they may still mishear words, especially in noisy situations and during meetings when more than one person is talking. They may benefit from using captions on video conference calls.
- Severe hearing loss – Staff will find it difficult to hear speech in most situations, even with hearing aids. They’re likely to lipread and may find additional communication support, such as a speech-to-text reporter, useful for meetings and training courses.
- Profound hearing loss – A combination of communication techniques are often used by people with profound hearing loss: speech, lipreading and sign language. They will need ongoing support for their hearing loss in the workplace. Communication support, assistive technology, deaf awareness and British Sign Language (BSL) training for colleagues will help.