The charity also found that over a third of people surveyed had felt bullied at work because of their deafness or hearing loss.
These experiences include everything from being excluded socially in the workplace, to making jokes and “snide remarks” about their inability to hear what’s been said.
Donna, who is a British Sign Language (BSL) user, said: “I definitely felt undermined and undervalued in my workplace. I felt so excluded in my office. Unlike my colleagues I never had any training for personal development. From work to colleague’s banter, they never invited me to lunches. I was never included.”
The survey, which had more than 1,000 respondents, was conducted as part of Action on Hearing Loss’ Working for Change campaign, which is seeking to break down the barriers faced by people with deafness and hearing loss when accessing and progressing in employment.
Dr. Roger Wicks, Director of Policy and Campaigns at Action on Hearing Loss, said: “Although there are around five million people of working age in the UK with some form of deafness and hearing loss, these results indicate there is a profound lack of awareness and understanding of its impact. That in 2018 people are still being subject to teasing, and at worst bullying, in the workplace is shocking. It’s almost inconceivable to imagine people with other disabilities experiencing this – and we believe it’s strongly linked to a lack of deaf awareness on the part of employers and peers in the workplace.
“It doesn’t have to be like this, however. There are a number of ways employers can educate themselves and their staff. Deafness and hearing loss do not limit anyone’s capacity for excellence, and we want employers to make the most of this huge pool of talent by enabling existing and prospective staff with deafness and hearing loss to thrive in the workplace.”
When given the right support by their employer, people with deafness or hearing loss are able to reach their full potential, whatever the work environment.
Steve Mintern, a firefighter at the Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service, lost his hearing overnight ten years ago. He said: “I had a meeting with the senior officer here and he asked me what I wanted, and I said well I want you to get me back to where I was, riding the fire engines. He said ‘right ok, if that’s what you want, then we’ll do what we can to get you there’. And they did.
“They introduced new policies for supporting people with hearing loss, and the adjustments that can be made, whereas before that there just wasn’t anything like that at all. Within five months I was back doing the job I’d been doing for 20 years.”
The charity, having consulted with employers and HR professionals, has created an Employer Guide on best practice.
Dr. Roger Wicks continued: “This guide is not only a resource that can educate employers and staff about hearing loss and deafness, it also sets out best practice and explains what support there is, such as the Government’s Access to Work scheme, to create an inclusive environment. We believe that the more educated and aware people are about deafness and hearing loss, negative experiences resulting from ignorant attitudes will become a thing of the past.” The guide can be downloaded at www.actiononhearingloss.org.uk/employers
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Jess Reid, PR Officer, telephone: 0203 227 6065 or email email@example.com, @hearinglossPR.
Notes to Editors
- Action on Hearing Loss (formerly RNID) is the national charity helping people confronting deafness, tinnitus and hearing loss to live the life they choose. Action on Hearing Loss enables them to take control of their lives and remove the barriers in their way, giving people support and care, developing technology and treatments, and campaigning for equality.