54% of the respondents in a British survey said that they chose not to disclose their deafness or hearing loss to their employer. Nearly nine out of ten (87%) of those who have not talked about their hearing problem in the workplace said they had avoided telling colleagues, while six out of ten (62%) had delayed telling their managers.
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. 60% said that they felt that others would assume they weren’t competent. 42% saw no point in mentioning it, because their workplace wouldn’t be able to help them anyway.
Stress and isolation
79% of respondents in the survey said that they have felt stressed and two-thirds said they had experienced isolation in the workplace. 65% of the participants felt isolated at work because of their deafness or hearing loss.
Fear for job situation
Almost a fifth of respondents (18%) hid their hearing loss, as they thought they might lose their job. 18% of respondents said they’d been told by an employer that they would be better off not continuing to work, and 12% felt pressured into reducing their working hours.
Applying for jobs
44% of respondents have applied for a job and not disclosed their hearing loss. When asked about the reason for this, over half (51%) of respondents said that they have been concerned that their employer would think they wouldn't be competent at the job. 17% thought they would be treated unfairly at work.
Of those who have told employers about their hearing loss at recruitment stage, 43% felt they had never or hardly ever received reasonable adjustments.
Hearing loss was a factor in the decision to retire early for over half (56%) of the respondents. Of those respondents who retired early because of hearing loss, nearly three-quarters (72%) did so because they found hearing loss made work stressful. A fifth (20%) did not feel that their employer made reasonable adjustments for their hearing.
“This research shows that despite there being 11 million – that’s one in six - people in the UK living with some form of deafness and hearing loss, many of those in employment are struggling unnecessarily. It’s shocking that in 2017, 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, said Paul Breckell, Chief Executive at Action on Hearing Loss.
About the survey
Action on Hearing Loss conducted the survey among more than 1,000 people with hearing loss aged 16 or above across the United Kingdom. The survey was conducted online between 20 November – 29 December 2017 as a part of the charity’s Working for Change campaign. The aim of the campaign is to change attitudes to deafness and hearing loss in the workplace.
More about the report (in English)