Ahead of Deaf Awareness Week (1 -7 May), one of our Zen family members who is hard of hearing themselves has shared some insightful information to help raise awareness of the challenges those with hearing loss may face. Internally we shared this information to ensure all of our team understand how to improve communication with those who may struggle with hearing. Now, let’s dive into some of the brilliant work from our Zen family colleague.
Why is it important?
Those who are deaf or hard of hearing continue to face barriers on a daily basis, barriers that can be easily removed with the help and support of others around them. Around 1 in 6 of the UK population has some form of hearing loss, making that around 12 million people! It is likely that in your home life, place of work, or even when you’re out and about, you will be communicating with somebody who may be hard of hearing or deaf.
Those who are deaf or hard of hearing can start to be impacted by other challenges, for example, they are up to 50% more likely to have poor mental health. If we all take the time to understand more about the challenges those with hearing loss face, we can improve communication and reduce the barriers around them.
What are the causes?
There are several causes that can lead to individuals being deaf or experiencing hearing loss, below we discuss some of the key causes.
- Age – damage to the cochlear through environmental/genetic factors
- Side effects from drugs – Vaccinations, Ototoxic drugs, and other drug-related effects
- Complications at birth
- Virus/Infection- including meningitis, rubella & German measles
- Noise Pollution – regular and prolonged exposure to loud sounds
- Genetic predisposition – at least half of all childhood deafness is inherited
Top tips for support
One way to help reduce the barriers for those who are deaf or hard of hearing is taking it upon ourselves to communicate more effectively. What you may consider a small change to the way in which you speak can become a big change to how you are understood. Below are some top tips for you to take away today!
- Gain the listener’s attention before you start speaking
- Find a well-lit place to talk, away from noise and distractions
- Be face-to-face with the person your talking to
- Don’t cover your mouth with your hands or clothing
- Speak clearly but not too slowly
- Exaggerated lip movements are harder to lipread
- Shouting is uncomfortable for hearing aid users and looks aggressive
- Talk directly to the person, not the interpreter
- Don’t keep repeating things. Say them in a different way.
- Make sure that your colleagues are included in conversations, don’t assume they will notice and are choosing not to take part
Famous figures and their contribution to society
Beethoven was a famous composer who began losing his hearing in his late 20s. Despite his deafness, he continued to compose and conduct music, and is regarded as one of the greatest composers of all time.
Edison, the inventor of the light bulb and phonograph, was hard of hearing for much of his life. He is known for his many contributions to technology and innovation.
Casar Jacobson is a Norwegian-Canadian diversity and Deaf activist and scientist. She was the first Deaf person in North America to earn a national pageant title. She is a UN Youth and Gender Equality 50/50 Champion, and works with UN Women on projects to better improve equality in the areas of gender and disability – including access to sign language and its culture.
Looking to support Deaf Awareness Week?