Does Hearing Loss Count as a Disability?
Created by Parentune Support Updated on Nov 16, 2019
It is easy to label someone as ‘disabled’ if they have less than full hearing, eyesight, range of movement and a host of other examples. However, the question of whether hearing loss counts as a disability can be broken down into three categories - legally, socially and personally.
There is not a uniform answer that covers every type and severity of hearing loss in each of the three categories. Nor can every type of hearing loss be improved with assistive hearing devices. An audiologist can suggest which essential features for the hard of hearing are best for the different spectrums of hearing loss.
Are the Hearing Impaired Disabled?
Here we break down the implications of hearing loss as a disability in each of the three categories. Read below
Is hearing loss a legal disability?
Simply put - it depends. Hearing loss falls under different classifications: mild, moderate, severe and profound. While any severity of the hearing loss is considered a legal disability, only profound hearing loss qualifies for disability payments. All classifications of hearing loss are protected under the American Disabilities Act that protects hearing-impaired people from being discriminated against due to their hearing loss.
The ADA guarantees that employers will provide reasonable accommodations that will assist the hard-of-hearing and Deaf employees. These accommodations can be anything from sign language interpreters, meeting transcriptions or enhanced telephones.
Hearing Loss Is Often Viewed By Society as a Disability
The cultural definition of hearing loss doesn’t often take into account how much someone can actually hear. The terms “Deaf” and “hard-of-hearing” are often used interchangeably, and more often than not, negatively.
Strangers and even family members can dismiss the person with hearing loss is disabled. People with hearing impairments often feel that they have to work twice as hard to appear ‘normal’ for society to accept them. Unfortunately, there is even a struggle between people with profound hearing loss welcoming those with the passable hearing into the Deaf community.
Most Hard-of-hearing People Don’t View Themselves as Disabled
Many people with hearing loss eschew the term disabled. For some, it may be the denial of the severity of their hearing loss, but for many, it’s a rejection of the societal misconception that hearing loss means “deaf and dumb.”
Hearing loss can occur at any age and many people will see the signs of a decline in their hearing as they age. It can be difficult to accept difficulty hearing after being immersed in the hearing world for many, many years.
For mild to moderate hearing loss, the remaining hearing could potentially be preserved for a little longer with these six tips by hearing loss activist, Stu Nunnery.
Misconceptions About Hearing Loss
There will always be misconceptions about hearing loss perpetrated by people who have never experienced it. Any hearing loss, no matter how severe, can be isolating and demoralizing. However, one of the best ways to overcome the stereotypes surrounding hearing loss is by educating the misinformed.
It’s important to keep in mind that encountering someone with hearing loss may not be an everyday occurrence and any ignorant behavior is most likely due to inexperience.
It can be burdensome to constantly take responsibility for educating others on hearing loss, but it also helps others to know how best to accommodate a person who suffers from hearing problems.