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      Why hearing loss should be on your agenda

      Putting hearing loss on your agenda is simple, important and effective. As well as showing good business sense and helping staff reach their potential, you’ll also be fulfilling your obligations under the Equality Act 2010.

      By: Helen Swarbrick | 21 September 2017

      The list of items on your agenda is no doubt, long and sprawling. Hearing Loss is probably not top of your priorities. In fact, it's unlikely to feature on the list at all. However, there are a number of reasons why hearing loss should be on your radar and it's not all down to ‘accessibility regulations’.  


      Why hearing loss matters

      Hearing loss is something you will have to consider at some point. Of the 11 million people in the UK with hearing loss, 5 million are of working age[1]. Currently, 40% of over 50 year olds experience some form of hearing loss and this increases to 70% in over 70 year olds[2]. With the state pension age set to increase to 66 for men and women in 2020, the number of older people in the workplace will rise. Addressing the accessibility requirements of your older employees will become increasingly important. However, this should not feel like an obligation.
       

      Retaining knowledge and skills

      It makes business sense to take care of this knowledgeable and skills-rich cohort. The average age of a Fortune 500 CEO is 57, so it’s clear that youth does not always triumph over experience. In order to keep their talent and skills within your workplace, it is worth catering to the needs of this baby boomer generation. Unfortunately, their requirements are frequently overlooked. Hearing Loss is an excellent example of a common condition which often results in people losing their job[3]. Nearly two-fifths of business leaders in the UK do not feel well-equipped to help staff with hearing loss to stay productive at work[4]. 


      Breaking down barriers

      The Equality Act 2010 requires reasonable adjustments to be made if employees with disability, including hearing loss, are at a substantial disadvantage. However, many employers don't know how to retain experienced staff who develop hearing loss, or take on new starters with hearing loss. Over a third of business leaders do not feel confident about their business employing a person with hearing loss[5]. Steps must be taken to break down barriers and provide proper support in the workplace. 


      Getting hearing loss on your agenda

      How many businesses even consider putting hearing loss on the agenda until an employee comes forward to ask for assistance, or a candidate with hearing loss applies for a role? The issue is often not seen as a priority but with one in six of population experiencing hearing loss[6], it can't be ignored. 


      What you can do

      There are numerous ways you can champion accessibility and inclusivity for people with hearing loss in your workplace:

      • Workplace Assessment will assess their needs, suggest solutions to help them perform more effectively and assist with government funding.
      • Deaf awareness training will help your hearing staff members better understand and communicate with people who have hearing loss and deafness.
      • Communication support is available to ensure full accessibility for staff with communication requirements.
      • Working for Change’ report provides clear recommendations for employers.


      Find out more

      For more information about Workplace Assessments, deaf awareness training and communication support, please contact our Access Solutions team:

      Tel: 0333 240 5658 
      Email: 
      access.solutions@hearingloss.org.uk

      [1] 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

      [2] Ibid

      [3] Matthews, L. (2011), Unlimited Potential: A research report into hearing loss in the workplace, Action on Hearing Loss, London

      [4] Action on Hearing Loss (2016), Working for Change: Improving attitudes to hearing loss in the workplace, Action on Hearing Loss, London

      [5] Action on Hearing Loss (2016), Working for Change: Improving attitudes to hearing loss in the workplace, Action on Hearing Loss, London

      [6] 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

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