Today, March 3rd, marks World Hearing Day, the annual global advocacy event coordinated by the World Health Organisation which looks to raise awareness of hearing loss - and this year the theme is Ear And Hearing Care For All!
According to statistics from the RNID, approximately 20% of adults in the UK are deaf or have hearing loss. Knowing how best to support employees who are deaf or have hearing loss is imperative in maintaining healthy and happy workplaces.
The best place to start in knowing how best to communicate is to simply ask. There are 151,000 British Sign Language (BSL) users in the UK, and access to a sign language interpreter could make meetings and other interactions much more accessible - but this only accounts for a relatively a small number of those who are deaf or have hearing loss.
A more readily available option would be to consider enabling subtitling and transcription for online meetings and to ensure that colleagues have their video cameras turned on where possible, to facilitate lip reading. You should also enquire about a preference for using the telephone or a video calling platform.
Business talk can often feel overwhelming with its use of jargon and acronyms, so the use of plain language is incredibly helpful in avoiding confusion when speaking with those with hearing loss. Employers should also be comfortable in supporting and facilitating their employees to make contact with audiologists. The use of hearing instruments, such as hearing aids or cochlear implants, could significantly improve workplace and lifestyle accessibility for those with moderate, severe or profound hearing loss.
It is hoped that taking these small steps will help to improve the confidence of all parties when attempting to address hearing loss in the workplace. The RNID have found that a lack of disclosure of hearing loss in the workplace is making it very difficult to address; they also found that a lack of confidence amongst line managers prevents action from being taken. Senior leaders are encouraged to lead by example in order to help normalise discussions around hearing loss.
At Health Partners, we are working to support this year’s theme for World Hearing Day through the application of a variety of different services. We deliver Workplace Needs Assessments where we uncover challenges on a case-by-case basis and provide bespoke guidance, support and advice on how to make the work environment and job role more accessible for those with hearing loss.
We provide direct training and coaching for line managers, HR representatives and employees themselves focusing on improving accessibility, health and happiness in the workplace. We also supply eLearning to help raise awareness, particularly for hearing loss, tinnitus and supporting deaf people. We also provide guidance on the use of technological interventions, including equipment to supplement the use of hearing instruments, video and call recording tools and high-quality transcription software.
You can get involved with World Hearing Day by following links on their website and can consider caring for your own hearing by taking a free test online, provided by RNID.
World Hearing Day 2023 - World Hearing Day
Hearing test - 3 minutes, free, online, easy and reliable | RNID