This week is Deaf Awareness Week and Enabling, our disability employee resource group, is taking the opportunity to raise awareness of hearing loss.
Some of us might be surprised that one in six of the UK population have hearing loss and that, by 2035, this will have risen to one in five.
More than 70% of those over 70 years old have some kind of hearing loss, but so do 42% of those over 50 years old. With an ageing workforce and rising retirement age, it is likely that more people will experience the onset of hearing loss in the workplace.
Young people can also be affected. According to the World Health Organisation, 1.1 billion teenagers and young adults are also at risk of hearing loss.
Our ambition is that we are a company that sees ability rather than disability and enables everyone to reach their full potential.
Hearing loss can be a challenge in the workplace, but barriers can be overcome and the support of managers and colleagues can make a huge difference.
For example, colleagues can help by facing the person when they are speaking to them or getting their attention before starting to speak. Employees with hearing loss can think about simple things like where they sit in the office or in a meeting and telling people up front that they have hearing loss.
There are lots more communication hints and tips for people with hearing loss, and for anyone talking to someone with hearing loss, in Action on Hearing Loss’ ‘Miscommunication?’ guide.
We’d encourage you to visit the new hearing loss resources page on the Enabling Infonet site, where you’ll find useful information for colleagues and managers on reasonable adjustments and sources of advice on hearing loss.
You can also read some personal stories from colleagues with hearing loss and how they are coping with the challenges they face.