Do you have hearing loss? You may not even know it. Hearing loss often creeps up over the years. Even so, you may not realize how it affects you every day. While many people think of hearing loss as a condition that affects more people in a retired demographic, it’s important to remember that a lot of hearing damage occurs in the workplace. And many of those with that damage are still working. Of those employed as of 2014, 48% of people have hearing loss. You may not even realize how hearing loss may affect your job.
The Impact of Hearing Loss in the Workplace
Hearing loss is often underestimated in its devastating effects can cause chronic depression, rifts in relationships, social isolation, and cognitive decline. In addition, hearing loss is a safety hazard in the workplace. When you have hearing loss you are less aware of your environment, and this means your reaction time to emergencies is longer. People with hearing loss are twice as likely to have accidents or fall, leading to hospitalizations not only to themselves but their co-workers and the public, depending on the profession. Adults with hearing loss often earn less and are more likely to be lower income and be unemployed or underemployed when compared to contemporaries with normal hearing.
The Cost of Hearing Loss!
Many people put off hearing loss treatment for fear of it being too expensive. While it’s unfortunate that some insurance companies consider treatment for hearing loss an elective treatment, politicians and health activists are rallying for more support and care around this devastating condition which affects around 48 million people in the US alone. In the meantime, it is still very important to seek treatment. While it’s true that an effective pair of hearing aids can run between $1,000 and $5,000 dollars, the true risk for working-age people is the impact on your earnings.
In a study from the Better Hearing Institute (BHI) they found that untreated hearing loss can decrease one’s annual income by as much as $30,000! From this perspective the cost of treatment is a rather sound investment! Meanwhile the total cost to society for untreated hearing loss is estimated around $26 billion in unrealized federal taxes; and an estimated aggregate yearly income loss of $176 billion due to underemployment.
A separate study found that individuals with hearing loss made about 25% less—their median estimated earnings were around $23,481, compared with $31,272 for typical-hearing peers. The amazing discovery was that with the investment and use of hearing aids daily, the risk of income loss was between 90 to 100% for those with milder hearing loss, and from 65 to 77% for those with moderate to severe hearing loss!
Disclosing Your Hearing Loss
Even while there are accommodations for hearing loss in the workplace, you have to be open about your hearing loss to receive them. Stigmas around hearing loss mixed with difficulty in self-diagnosis are some of the biggest factors that keep people from receiving workplace protections and accommodations. However, when you can explain to your employer what you need to work with more productivity, whether it be a quieter workspace or assistive listening devices, they can provide these services at no cost to you. Many people find that written out meeting notes and assignments are helpful in lessening confusion, while others benefit from real-time talk to text technology such as CART (Communication Access Real-time Translation).
Advocate for Yourself
Managing hearing loss in the workplace gets easier the more you practice. Advocate for your needs in many different ways. Let your coworkers and employers know how they can best support young people and come prepared with the requested accommodations, whether that be your meeting notes or CART system, so you are ready to listen with all the tools provided.
Hearing Aids in the Workplace
While there is no cure for hearing loss, hearing aids have been found to close the gap in missing wages. To find out if hearing aids are the right fit for you, don’t hesitate to schedule a hearing exam right away—especially if you are at high risk. If you work in a noisy profession, have noisy hobbies, have a family history of hearing loss or are nearing 50 years and older, regular exams can catch a hearing loss before it starts to affect your job. Contact us today!