Hearing loss and workplace accessibility? Get it on your agenda - Action On Hearing Loss: RNID
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Hearing loss and workplace accessibility? Get it on your agenda

Posted on: Monday, May 15, 2017 by Nicola George

Helen SwarbrickHelen Swarbrick, Marketing Executive for Action on Hearing Loss, discusses the importance and value of supporting people in the workplace who have hearing loss. Action on Hearing Loss does a wide range of work to support people in the workplace, such as recent campaign ‘Working for Change’.

Look at that long, sprawling list of things on your desk. Yes, that one – all the things that should be on your agenda. Hearing Loss is right on top, yes?

No? Oh.

Most likely, hearing loss not even on the list yet. But there are a number of very good reasons why it should be on that list. First, most importantly, and inescapably, at some point you are going to have to consider hearing loss. Why? Because 5 million of the 11 million people in the UK with hearing loss are of working age . At present, 40% of people over 50 experience some degree of hearing loss. The number of older people in the workplace, those at higher risk of hearing loss, will rise as the pension age does in 2020. Providing accessible workplaces for this older employee base will be essential.

If that feels like just another obligation to add to the long and growing list, take a moment to think.

The average age of a Fortune 500 CEO is 57, so it’s clear that youth does not always triumph over time. The ‘young baby boomer generation’ have by now amassed a considerable skill set and racked up a lot of valuable knowledge and experience.

Hearing Loss is an excellent example of a very common condition that often leads to people losing their jobs . Nearly two-fifths of business leaders in the UK don’t feel sufficiently well equipped to allow staff with hearing loss to remain productive . This just isn’t acceptable. Not only is talent lost, but it’s against the Equality Act 2010.

The greater concern, however, is that employers do not feel they have the necessary support to hold on to capable and experienced staff members who develop hearing loss, or to employ new staff with hearing loss. More than a third of business leaders do not feel confident about employing a person with hearing loss but it truly is easy with some thought and a small amount of leg work.
As soon as hearing loss has made its way on to your agenda, there’s a range of resources you can draw on to make your workplace accessible to people with hearing loss:

  • Action on Hearing Loss’s Working for Change report details some clear recommendations for employers.
  • Understanding the most relevant way to help your staff is key, so work-based assessments are easy ways to get essential advice and also act as evidence to support an application to government funding. 
  • Training courses are available to help your hearing staff members better understand and communicate with people with hearing loss and deafness. 
  • Communication support services can also be used, where relevant, to ensure accessibility for staff with communication requirements.
Putting hearing loss on your agenda is simple, important and effective. You just need to consider it first. As soon as you’ve done that, we look forward to hearing from you.

For more information on work-based assessments, training or communication support, please email access.solutions@hearingloss.org.uk or call 03332405658

Action on Hearing Loss (2015), Hearing Matters: Why urgent action is needed on deafness, tinnitus and hearing loss across the UK, Action on Hearing Loss, London
Matthews, L. (2011), Unlimited Potential: A research report into hearing loss in the workplace, Action on Hearing Loss, London
Action on Hearing Loss (2016), Working for Change: Improving attitudes to hearing loss in the workplace, Action on Hearing Loss, London


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