Three out of four people with hearing loss feel their employment opportunities are more limited than their hearing peers, with almost 80 per cent naming employers as the major barrier, according to new research by charity Action on Hearing Loss released today to mark Deaf Awareness Week (19 – 26 May).

The charity’s findings, which highlight the difficulties deaf people face at work, show that hearing loss prevented 70 per cent of people surveyed from fulfilling their potential at work and, of those that retired early, two-fifths said hearing loss contributed to their decision to retire.

Chief Executive of Action on Hearing Loss, Paul Breckell, said: ‘Why should the one in six people with a hearing loss in the UK be denied the same opportunities to progress their careers as people with hearing? It’s crucial that employers change their attitudes to reduce the daily obstacles that deaf people face and take practical steps, such as having working hearing loops, installing amplified telephones and making simple changes to work areas, to ensure everyone has the chance to reach their full potential.’

Mat Gilbert, the UK’s only deaf professional sportsperson, who plays for Bath Rugby Club, commented: ‘I didn’t allow being deaf to limit my ambition to play top-level rugby and I appreciate the support I’ve received from all my rugby teams. I hope people with a hearing loss are able to fulfil their aspirations, like I have, make the most of their skills and talents, and have the same chances at work as their hearing peers so that they can kick-on with their careers.’

Other research released by the charity this week reveals:

  • 31 per cent of deaf people feel they are treated differently because of their deafness, hearing loss and tinnitus
  • 33 per cent of deaf people avoid social situations because they find it difficult to communicate
  • 68 per cent of people with hearing loss feel isolated at work as a result