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Facts and statements on employment

Number of people 

  • 12 million adults of working age have some degree of hearing loss in one or both ears [1].

Employment gap 

  • Deaf people and people with hearing loss are less likely to be employed than the general population [2].
  • Only 37% of people who report BSL as their main language are working, in comparison to 77% of people who are not disabled under the Equality Act [3].

Difficulties in work 

  • Most people who are deaf or have hearing loss have felt stressed at work because of their hearing loss [4]. 
  • People worry they will be treated unfairly at work if they disclose their hearing loss [4].  
  • Hearing loss and deafness are a contributor to people deciding to retire early [5].
  • Recent public polling (2023) found that over a quarter (26%) of people would feel uncomfortable being told to manage someone who was deaf or had hearing loss [6].

Economic impact 

  • Deaf people and those with hearing loss have a lower household income than people with normal hearing [7]. 
  • Deaf people and those with hearing loss are overrepresented in lower status, lower paid occupations [7].

Benefits to business 

  • Deaf people and those with hearing loss and tinnitus bring diversity of thought and a wealth of talent.  
  • It has been shown that companies that champion disability inclusion report 30% higher profit margins compared to their peers [8].
  • Deaf people and those with hearing loss who receive good support from colleagues and supervisors at work report better perceived productivity [9].

Access to Work 

  • Employees and employers who could benefit from the Access to Work do not necessarily know about the scheme [10].  
  • Our 2018 survey suggested only a quarter of people who have heard about Access to Work are access the scheme [10].

Sources

[1] Our hearing loss population estimates and hearing loss population projections are calculated using the most robust data available on the prevalence of hearing loss (average hearing levels of 20dB or worse in one or both ears) for different age groups, combined with the latest available population estimates from the Office for National Statistics (ONS). Read this recent report on the number of adults in the UK with a hearing loss (2024). 

Read the report on hearing in adults from the MRC National Study of Hearing

[2] (1) Find out more about UK employment statistics

[2] (2) Read the UK Government’s report on employment statistics for disabled people in the UK (2022).

[3] Explore the 2021 ONS Census Data for England and Wales.

[4] Read about workplace experiences in RNID’s report, Working for Change, 2018 (PDF, 402 KB).

[5] Read about the economic and social costs of hearing loss (PDF, 3MB).

[6] Find out more about public awareness of deafness and hearing loss.

[7] Read more on the economic and social costs of hearing loss.

[8] (1) Read a report on advantages to disability inclusion at work (PDF, 908 KB).

[8] (2) Find out more via the Business Disability Forum.

[9] (1) Find out more about hearing loss, workplace productivity and sick leave.

[9] (2) Learn more about the impact of open plan offices and noise at work for people with and without hearing loss.

[10] Read more about workplace experiences in RNID’s report (PDF, 402KB).


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Page last updated: 24 June 2024

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