From 1 to 7 May 2023 Deaf Awareness Week will celebrate raising awareness of deafness and hearing loss and shine a light on how businesses and organisations can support the deaf community in the UK.
This year’s theme is ‘Access to Communication’ and the aim is to raise awareness of the barriers to communication faced by the deaf community, leading to social isolation, mental health problems, limited employment opportunities and reduced access to services in society. Inclusivity and greater access to communication tools and services can go a long way to ensure individuals communication needs are met.
Promoted by the RNID, the national hearing loss charity, Deaf Awareness Week is an opportunity to raise awareness that 12 million adults in the UK are deaf or have hearing loss. That is 1 in 5 adults. They estimate that by 2035, 14.2 million adults will have a hearing loss greater than 25dB across the UK. Approximately 151,000 people with hearing loss use British Sign Language, whilst others will use lip reading, hearing aids or body language or other methods.
Francesca Bamsey, a specialist military hearing loss senior associate solicitor said:
When speaking to our clients who have suffered hearing loss and tinnitus as a result of exposure to excessive noise in the armed forces, we often find that they are not always aware of the extent of their hearing loss until they leave service and return to a quieter environment. They often tell us that they have difficulty understanding conversation in noisy environments and tend to look at people’s lips to try and understand what is being said. Quite a few of our clients also wear hearing aids to help alleviate their hearing problems in day to day life
We also find that some of our clients also face difficulties in accessing certain types of civilian employment. For example, their hearing loss may prevent them from accessing the jobs where a hearing test is required as part of a routine medical. Unfortunately for many service personnel, this may have already occurred if they were discharged from the Armed Forced because of their hearing loss. Many people do not disclose their hearing problems to their employer for fear of the potential impact on their employment prospects. Therefore, it is important to create a working environment where employees can feel comfortable to speak about their difficulties.
Any hearing loss is worth investigating and campaigns, such as Deaf Awareness Week are a great way to encourage people to seek help and support.