shhhh!Many people with hearing loss choose to keep their problems to themselves, and do not get the support and help in the workplace that they require, according to a UK study. Researchers say this can lead to early retirement.

A study carried out by members of Action on Hearing Loss (formerly known as RNID), an UK organisation for the hard of hearing, shows that many hearing impaired people are not open about their hearing loss. Just under half of the respondents have told their colleagues about their hearing loss and even fewer, 37%, have chosen to tell their employer. A further one-third of respondents did not tell anyone at work.

A study, carried out by Hear-it AISBL in March and April 2011, shows similar results. It shows that only 39% are open about their hearing loss when it comes to colleagues and acquaintances. 20% of those who participated in the survey said that they try to keep it to themselves and more than 16% said “I keep it to myself”.

The results suggest that some people do not feel able to speak to their collages or employer, and as a result they don’t request the adjustments that could improve their situation in terms of managing hearing loss at work. According to Action on Hearing Loss (RNID) this is alarming.

Hearing loss affects self-confidence and many feel embarrassed
40% of respondents in the RNID Annual Survey agreed that losing their hearing had made them feel less confident at work and 34% said that hearing loss had made them feel less confident about taking on new work or responsibilities. According to the report, many experience isolation and a feeling of being unappreciated.
The Hear-it AISBL study showed, that 43% are a little embarrassed about their hearing loss and 28% are very embarrassed. Only 28% are not embarrassed about their hearing loss.

Early retirement
Experiencing difficulties at work due to hearing loss may lead people to consider taking early retirement. The RNID-report shows, that more than 36% of those who took early retirement said that this was related to their hearing loss in some way.

Sixteen percent of adult Europeans suffer from hearing loss great enough to adversely affect their daily life, yet only one out of five who would benefit from hearing aids actually use them.