Widespread barriers in the labour market

Two hearing impaired people out of three have trouble communicating with colleagues and managers in their workplace.

Hearing impaired employees, thus, feel more tired and isolated than employees in general. Data from RNID, the association of hearing impaired people in the United Kingdom, provides a clear picture:

  • 64 percent of deaf and hard of hearing people in employment have communication difficulties at work
  • 60 percent of hearing impaired employees are looking for other jobs because they feel badly treated in their present jobs.

But, however problematic joining the labour market may be to hearing impaired people employment improves their general quality of life. Hearing impaired people with jobs are more satisfied and harmonious and enjoy a better self-esteem than hearing impaired people without jobs.

The unemployment rate among hearing impaired people is almost four times as high as the general unemployment rate in the U.K. In Denmark, the unemployment among hearing impaired job-seekers is twice the general rate. Whatever the variations from country to country, the general trend is clear: Hearing impaired people face numerous barriers in the labour market. Seventy percent of the respondents in the RNID survey believed that they were taken out of consideration for jobs they had applied for because of their hearing impairment or deafness.

The barriers are not limited to one or two major factors. On a general societal level, a legal framework must be created along with educating the public. At the same time, individual employers and hearing impaired employees may improve conditions through simple measures focusing on improved communication in the workplace.

Source: "Raising barriers to jobs", published in One In Seven, Issue 33, February-March 2003-06-26 & British Journal of Audiology, 2000; 34: 187-195

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