by Neil Bauman, Ph.D.
Millions of hard of hearing people still face serious barriers to employment. Just getting a job–any job–is tough for those with significant hearing loss. Getting promoted is even harder.
According to the RNID in the United Kingdom:
Over half (53%) of those surveyed cited “attitude of employers” as one of the main barriers preventing them from finding employment. These barriers also severely restrict career prospects for those already in employment, creating artificial and unnecessary “glass ceilings.” In fact, 51% of those currently working felt they had been held back from promotion or developing their careers as a result of their hearing loss and 34% felt their job didn’t make full use of their qualifications.
The situation is not much different here in the United States or in Canada.
So often, employers treat hard of hearing people as though they lost their brains along with their hearing. This is just not true. Hard of hearing people have abilities, skills and talents just like everyone else. As Cheryl Cullen of the RNID says, “People with hearing loss represent a talented and skilled, but largely untapped, labour resource.”
Hearing loss isn’t the barrier to working that so many employers ignorantely assume it is. Hard of hearing people just need the right support so they can do their jobs in spite of their hearing losses. The cost of accommodations for hard of hearing people is generally minimal, and the payback can be enormous.
Not only are hard of hearing people loyal to employers who accommodate their needs, many of them make even better workers than those with normal hearing! This is because they focus on the job and are not as easily distracted by sounds around them, nor do they waste as much of their employer’s time in social chit chat around the water cooler.