A leading Shrewsbury law partner, who is partially deaf in both ears, has thrown his support behind a national campaign aimed at increasing awareness of hearing loss issues among employers.
Hugh Strickland, who has been a Partner in Aaron & Partners’ corporate and commercial team for almost three years, relies predominantly on face-to-face contact, text or email to talk to his clients.
And he says Deaf Awareness Week, which is supported by the national charity Action on Hearing Loss, is vitally important in the battle to educate other employers about the difficulties that exist for people suffering from hearing loss.
“I’m lucky to work with such a supportive practice and a group of colleagues who do everything they can to make communication as easy as possible for me,” said Hugh, for whom hereditary deafness runs in the family.
“But I know that’s not the case in all working environments – that’s why Deaf Awareness Week is such an important campaign in helping to highlight the challenges people with deafness or hearing loss can face on a daily basis in the workplace.”
Action on Hearing Loss says a lack of deaf awareness among employers and society at large is holding people with hearing loss back by creating unnecessary barriers.
And in a new report titled ‘Working for Change’, the charity says this is costing the UK economy almost 25 billion pounds a year.
The report also says that despite the fact that employers are legally obliged to make reasonable adjustments to support people in the workplace, many lack the confidence or awareness to employ someone with hearing loss.
“I’ve never let deafness hold me back in life but I think more needs to be done to ensure employers and society at large can be more deaf aware,” added Hugh.
“Technology, especially text and email, helps a huge amount but face to-face communication is always the best option in my opinion. So much of communication is non-verbal so being able to look someone in the eye really helps with understanding.
“Around 50 per cent of people over 50, and 70 per cent of people over 70 will suffer from some form of deafness in their lives, and when you combine that with an ageing population in the UK where people are now living and working longer, it’s vital that we break down any barriers that prevent people with deafness or hearing loss succeeding in the workplace.”