According the United Nations, unaddressed hearing loss poses an annual global cost of US$750 billion.
The ways we can support people with hearing impairments are simple and cost effective - from hearing devices, education and improved social support at work.
Hearing impairment is occurs when there's damage to, or a problem with one or more parts of the of the ear. Hearing loss is usually the result of inner ear or nerve damage. Both can be caused by:
- congenital defect
- certain medication
- exposure to loud noise; or
- age-related wear and tear
Some impairments can be treated with surgery and hearing devices to enable hearing, but not all. This makes lip-reading, written or printed text and sign language the primary way(s) of communicating.
If you live with a hearing impairment or loss and find verbal communication a challenge, then you probably feel that workplaces which are optimal for, and can accommodate hearing impairments are hard to find.
Evidently, a job or career requiring precision hearing would be off the cards, but those jobs are only a very small percentage of total jobs or careers available.
In any role, no two people perform their duties in the exact same fashion. In the right role a person with any kind of hearing impairment can perform the same duties (with small accommodations) as someone who is able to fully hear.
Disclosing your impairment to your employer
Any worker, regardless of ability, needs to be aware of any challenges or obstacles on a daily basis which may affect their ability to perform their duties.
Ideally, you should disclose your hearing loss in interviews so you can ask for help or adjustments with the job. It’s also good for co-workers to be aware so they can improve and direct their communication in a way you can understand and make you feel included.
For a workplace to be inclusive for people with hearing issues, good communication is everyone's responsibility.
Ultimately, the best career or job for someone hard of a hearing is a career or job that brings them enjoyment, purpose and fulfilment. A hearing impairment may require some small adjustments to the way the job is carried out, this creates a more inclusive and open work environment.
What kind of jobs are ideal for people with a hearing impairment?
There are all kinds of industries and jobs someone who has hearing loss or a hearing impairment can work in, from highly skilled roles to ones which don't necessarily require a qualification.
What job you can do will depend on whether you have done or want to further your education to University, TAFE or specialist institution.
There are going to be some jobs that are easier to manage and you will encounter fewer obstacles with. Even the simple act of not having conversations or meetings in noisy places can make much of your work life much smoother and efficient.
If you need an extra bit of help securing a role which works with your ability, you can work with a dedicated Employment Consultant to get you into a career, and not just a job
Here are 10 jobs in a range of industries suited to people with a hearing impairment:
If you have a desire to care for and work with people, there are many jobs in healthcare depending on the severity of your hearing loss. Roles which are carried out in a laboratory like diagnostic medical examiners, lab technicians or sonographers, requiring very little verbal communication.
These also include being a specialist in a number of fields like a podiatry, dentistry, veterinary science, or nursing. Although some jobs require surgical masks to be worn, they are now available in transparent materials for the benefit of those who need to lip-read.
Some people with impaired hearing experience heightened senses or rely more on other senses like touch or sight. Working in the medical or health field requires observation and using touch to make a diagnosis like a chiropractor, physiotherapist or massage therapist do during treatments.
2. Law or human services
Because those with hearing impairments often have a highly tuned ability to not only lip read but read people’s body language, a good job might involve paying close attention to people’s behaviour or mood.
Roles such as a psychologist or counsellor, social worker, lawyer, paralegal or in human resources usually require one on one communication in quiet offices or rooms.
3. Skills and trades
A large amount of the deaf workforce is employed in manufacturing or construction. Because the work environment is very noisy, usually with large machinery, everyone’s hearing is compromised.
As an article in a UK Construction Magazine states, there are many simple systems already in place for non-verbal communication (for all workers) like lights or signals, hand gestures and signs.
4. Information technology and engineering
The majority of jobs in these industries can easily accommodate a candidate with a hearing impairment. Some of the many jobs in information technology utilise a lot of written text in the form of code or written requests/briefings, and other predominantly visual elements.
Possible roles include software developer, database administrator, web developer, biomedical engineer, Information security management or analysis, writing or interpreting code, online moderator, chat support agent, the list goes on.
5. Finance and business administration
If numbers are your strength, there are numerous jobs in the area of finance or business administration which use a majority of visual sources for day to day tasks such as spreadsheets, software and emails.
Furthermore, the autonomous work of accountants, bookkeepers, business administrators, budget or financial analysts, auditors, investment managers or financial planners is highly accommodating for those who might require minimal verbal communication in their role.
6. Art, design and photography
With strong visualisation skills you can utilise your talents in the areas of art and design. If you are creative and enjoy seeing art come to life, there are jobs for people with loss of hearing in graphic design, animation, set design, fashion or even costume design.
For those with a keen eye for detail, you might enjoy working behind a camera in an area like photography or image processing/editing. Many companies have online presence and need images or videos to show their product or service online.
7. Copywriting, writing and editing
For those whose talent is in writing, there are plenty of roles with moderate or low levels of verbal interaction, and usually reside in quieter working environments (or even at home!)
Some of the flexible jobs or careers you look into involving writing include: technical or commercial writing, journalist, speech writer, creative copywriter / freelancer. There are also jobs that involve proof-reading large amounts of copy like legal contracts or in publishing.
If you saw any of the Prime Minsters addresses to the public during the Covid-19 pandemic, you would have seen the interpreter doing sign language by his side. Deafaustralia.org states that Auslan (Australian Sign Language) is essential to economic, personal and social engagement in Australia.
Some interpreters are people who hear well and learn Auslan as a second language, however interpreters who are deaf are requested when someone with a hearing impairment has other challenges that make it difficult for them to understand a traditional interpreter.
Young children especially babies don’t engage in lengthy conversations and only understand simple language, or using 2-3 word sentences. Studies have shown that 70% of communication in young children is non verbal. Caring for children involves many other important skills besides hearing well.
10. Special education
When you live with a disability you have the empathy and understanding to help others, particularly those with similar challenges. Being in a position to help someone else can be very rewarding. Some of these jobs include teachers, tutors or teacher’s assistant.
Are there jobs people with a hearing impairment should avoid?
There are some roles which require full hearing which are not suitable for people with hearing impairments. A few examples include: pilot, emergency worker, audiologist and audio/audiovisual editor or technician.
However, there are jobs for people with a hearing impairment that might not be enjoyable simply because it’s constantly challenging. Any environment with a noisy background (e.g. bar, restaurant, call centre or shopping centre) that requires you to have conversations with people would probably get pretty frustrating.
Also, if your hearing is less than 40 decibels on average, Australian law won’t allow you to drive a commercial vehicle so jobs involving transport or delivery might not be possible.
Can people with hearing impairment or hearing issue join the Police?
Entry into the police force requires a driver’s license and a list of background checks; fitness testing; psychological testing; health checks; comprehensive checks; and a final interview.
Every state in Australia has their own eligibility criteria however excellent interpersonal and communication skills are required and part of the testing includes an audio visual and comprehension test.
Find out more about the WA Police's recruitment requirements, or contact your local law enforcement.
If you're wanting to take advantage of the multiple benefits that come from having a job or hiring a person with a disability, get in contact with APM Employment Services to see how we can support you: