Hearing Impairment (Deafness)
Deafness can be described as partial or complete hearing loss. Hearing impairment can be caused by a range of factors such as genetics, infection, damage to the ear or environmental factors such as noise, drugs or age.
- Some people may be able to hear, but have difficulty picking out sounds in a noisy environment
- Use of sign language or a hearing aid
- People with tinnitus may have difficulty sleeping and experience tiredness during the day
- Communication difficulties. Not all people with a hearing impairment will use sign language, a hearing aid, or be able to lip read
- May have difficulties with written instructions. For some hearing impaired people, sign language is their first language
- Hearing impairments as a result of their environment, for example noisy machinery, can affect the range of hearing, such as difficulty in hearing certain pitches in speech.
Potential impact on daily life and employment
A sudden or unexpected loss in hearing can have an emotional or negative impact on mental health
- Workplaces and homes may need aids and adaptations, eg. to fire alarms
- Frustration in communicating - don’t assume someone with a hearing aid has full hearing
- Potential vulnerability in some busy environments.
Support in the workplace
Make sure all support aids and adaptations are in place
- Consider the installation of a hearing loop system for employees with a hearing aid or cochlear implant. Portable and permanent systems are available
- Ensure you understand the best way to re-enforce communications with the individual and check their understanding. Don’t assume that just because you have provided information in writing that it has been understood
- Give consideration to induction, company handbooks etc. and how the individual can access these. In particular, it is vital they have understood health and safety requirements
- Written material should be supported with visual media where possible
- Poor communications can sometimes lead to outbursts of anger – always consider the reasons for any outburst before jumping to conclusions.
Source; Audiology Australia.