Did you know that there are 12 million people in the UK who are deaf or have a hearing loss?
Did you know that 5 million of those people are of working age?
Looking at it another way this number could represent 1 in 12 of your workforce. 1 in 12 of your team or colleagues could either be deaf or have a hearing loss.
You may think that surely you would know anyone in your team was deaf or had a hearing loss? But that’s not always the case. You see, deafness is a hidden disability. Which simply means that it is a disability that you cannot see.
If you have a colleague who is a wheelchair user – you are immediately aware and it enables your brain to prepare for any adjustments that may need to be made to create an accessible and inclusive working environment.
- If one of your colleagues has long hair covering their ears – they could be wearing hearing aids – but you would not know.
- A colleague who seems quite unresponsive when you say hi as you are passing them in the hallways – this may be because they have a hearing loss but they prefer not to wear hearing aids when out and about as the background noise makes it uncomfortable to wear them.
Currently, there are 2 million people who wear hearing aids in the UK – but over 6.7 million people could benefit from wearing them.
This shows that it is possible that you may have colleagues within your business who are deaf or have a hearing loss and you just don’t know about it.
In addition to the fact that it is a hidden disability, 54% of employees with hearing loss are reluctant to tell their employer.
So, have an open dialogue with colleagues to help them put together some communication strategies if they work with a colleague who has a hearing loss or is deaf.
This will help the whole team feel less anxious, and wondering if they are doing the right thing and they will feel more confident in their interactions. Most importantly, it will ensure your deaf colleagues feel included and understood.
Any questions - as always we are here to help!
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