Hearing loss forcing people out of the job market

One in five hearing impaired people gives up on the job market and almost 15 percent feel so spent after work that they have nothing left for active leisure pursuits.

According to an extensive survey among 1,600 hearing impaired people carried out by the Danish Institute for Social Research, many people find that their hearing loss is a barrier to full participation in the job market as well as their social life.

Difficult to stay in labour market

Hearing impaired people are leaving the job market at a much higher rate than their normal-hearing colleagues. In the hearing impaired group, 18 percent receive disability support. Among the general population, 7 percent receive disability support. In general, hearing impaired people have difficulty gaining a foothold in the job market. The unemployment rate among them is 7.5 percent as compared to the current general Danish unemployment rate of 4.8 percent.

Most hearing impaired people do well in their work, but their hearing problem often results in difficulty conducting phone conversations and taking part in discussions with colleagues. As many as 77 percent of the respondents said they have trouble conversing with several colleagues at a time.

Demanding workdays

The communications obstacles often make the normal workday psychologically and physically demanding, making the hearing impaired employees feel exhausted by the end of the workday. Forty-seven percent of the respondents said they suffer from mental exhaustion as compared to 36 percent among the general population, and 51 percent complained of occasional physical exhaustion as compared to 31 percent among the general population.

In general, the survey found a higher risk of burn-out among hearing impaired than among normal-hearing workers. Thirteen percent said they lack the energy to pursue leisure activities outside their work, and the prevalence of mental and other problems was found to be three times higher among hearing impaired workers when compared to the general population.

Source: "Når hørelsen svigter. Om konsekvenserne af hørenedsættelse i arbejdslivet, uddannelsessystemet og for den personlige velfærd."Det danske Socialforskningsinstitut, 2003. ("When hearing fails: Impact of hearing loss on work, education and personal health." The Danish Institute for Social Research, 2003.)

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