People with hearing loss don’t disclose their condition to their employers because they fear it will have a negative effect on their career. That’s the finding from a new survey, by the charity Action on Hearing loss, which found that more than half of people living with deafness and hearing loss feel they can’t be open about it in the workplace.
According to the survey, a third of those who felt they could not be open about their hearing loss said it was due to the fear that they would be treated unfairly at work. A further 60% felt that that others would assume they weren’t competent and 42% saw no point because their workplace wouldn’t be able to help them.
Worryingly, as many as 79% of respondents to the survey said they felt stressed and two-thirds reported having experienced isolation in the workplace. This is despite there being 11 million (one in six) people in the UK living with some sort of deafness, points out the charity.
Paul Breckell, chief executive at Action on Hearing Loss, says: “It’s shocking that in 2018, and despite a lot of work by governments and employers to encourage more inclusivity and accessibility, people with deafness and hearing loss feel they can’t be open about it.”
The charity says that working cultures where people are worried about talking openly about their condition don’t help the feelings of stress and isolation. It says that employers need to take note of the research findings and create a working environment where people feel both able and welcome to disclose disabilities and sensory impairments.
To help employers understand how to make their workplaces more accessible for people with deafness and hearing loss, the charity has produced a simple guide. It includes everything from simple deaf awareness tips for staff to providing detailed information on the Government’s Access to Work scheme.
“From basic deaf awareness training for staff and management, the fundamentals of which are common courtesy and being considerate, to taking advantage of Access to Work to cover the cost of amplified phones, there needn’t be barriers for anyone,” says Breckell.