Social Impact of Hearing Loss

Hearing loss can have a profound affect on both your social and working life. This can occur whether the symptoms remain unnoticed, or if you have been recently diagnosed, or even, if you have been living with hearing loss your entire life. Accordingly, there is help available, including specialist equipment and resources.

Social Impact

  • Conversation may become less fluid.
  • Interaction in noisy places can become problematic.
  • Your personality may change as you adjust.
  • Difficulty distinguishing sounds, sometimes seeming to others like you are ignoring them.
  • Isolated, partaking in fewer social activities.
  • Intimacy issues, with feelings of inadequacy.
  • Problems getting on at work.
  • Sexual issues.

Psychological Impact

  • Feelings of anger.
  • Low confidence, especially in social settings.
  • Frustration.
  • Depression.
  • Difficulty concentrating, such as when communicating.
  • Embarrassment.
  • Short-tempered and less tolerant towards others.
  • Mistrustful of others.

Relations with Family and Friends

Families and loved ones can often be a basis of strength and support during difficult times, and this is no different when a family member has hearing loss.

However, many of us take our hearing for granted, and this can make it difficult for loved ones to fully appreciate the repercussions.

Communicating with a partner who has hearing loss can typically add to the problems any couple faces. However, counselling is available for those learning to cope with hearing loss.

Work

There is assistance for those in work who have hearing loss.

Employment Advisers - Your local jobcentre are able to offer counsel, whether you are having trouble getting a job, or are recently disabled. They can also make available grants for specialist equipment at work, such as modified computers. They can also give advice about schemes and training available.

Employment Rights – Every worker is offered protection by the regulation, ‘Noise at Work’, requiring employers to take precautions for the safety of employees hearing. Those with hearing loss have the same rights as other workers, as well as extra ones under the Disability Discrimination Act.

Supported Employment – Job instructors are available to help people fit in at their new work. The ‘Access to Work’ scheme, for example, run by Jobcentre Plus, is a programme offering help to disabled people through difficulties at work.

Specialist Equipment

Doorbells: Come in a selection of sounds and volumes, and it is recommended you try before you buy.

Visual Doorbells – Doorbells that give off flashing signals to inform you when the doorbell is pressed.
Extra-loud Doorbells – Doorbells that give off louder sounds. They can be problematic if living with people who do not have hearing loss.
Portable Doorbells – Doorbell apparatus you can carry around with you. They can be clipped on to your belt or carried in your very pocket.

Phones: There are extension chimes for telephones to give out louder noises, and many can replace sound with a visual flash.

Mobile Phone – Texting is an alternative to speech, with some mobile phones being apt for hearing aids. Neckloops, a necklace like loop you can plug into equipment, can also be used with many mobiles.  
Textphones - Sound is replaced with a small screen where messages can be typed and read.
TextDirect – This is a service for text users offered by TextDirect. They are able to converse your text message to the person you wish to communicate with, and then relay back the incoming message through text.
Fax Machines – Most establishments, such as doctor surgeries, can be contacted by fax.
Email – Computers and mobile phones can be used to email others. However, this form of communication is unsuitable for emergencies.

Televisions: There are customized televisions available as alternatives.

Portable Equipment – Moveable amps that can are plugged into a television, or radio, in order to increase sound.
Installed Systems – ‘Loop’ systems are only for people with hearing aids with a ‘T’ button. It is connected into the television in order to improve sound quality. However, there can sometimes be interference form other electrical equipment.
Subtitles – Many programmes enable words at the bottom of the screen to replace speech, and other actions on screen. Programmes with subtitles are marked by an S or T in the television schedule.

 Alarms: Alarms play an important role in our safety. 

Alarm Clocks – Alarms are available that use light or vibration instead of sound.
Baby Alarms - This is an alternative to baby monitors, enabling you to know when your baby is crying, by way of light or vibration.
Pager Systems - A system links the key devices in your household, including the fire alarm and doorbell, to an apparatus you carry with you. When one or more of them is used, the apparatus will inform you.
Smokers Alarms – A strong light will illuminate when the fire alarm goes off, with the option of a vibrating cushion pad.

 For Further Information on any of the issues discussed, visit the Royal Institute for Deaf People web-site, or, the Jobcentre Plus web-site.