Hearing loss (or hearing impairment) is a non-life-threatening physiological change that can have a large impact on individuals – their family, friends and colleagues – and the community.
Research shows that hearing loss can have a profound social and emotional impact through an inability to hear and communicate effectively. It can be harder to engage in everyday activities can such as:
- listening to and talking with those closest to you
- arranging everyday life like shopping
- accessing public transport
- participating in employment, education and social activities
Access to help
Access to the right audiological and clinical help isn’t always straightforward, which may effect access to rehabilitation services, appropriative assistive technology and hearing aids.
The community impact of hearing loss
Deeply felt at a personal level by many Australians, hearing loss also has a financial cost for the Australian community.
The economic cost of hearing loss
The most recent data found that in 2005 the financial cost of hearing loss to the economy was almost $12 billion or 1.4 percent of GDP.
- that is $578 for every Australian
- The greatest cost component is productivity loss, accounting for 57% or $6.7 billion of all financial costs
- nearly half the people with hearing loss are of working age
- an estimated 160,000 people not employed in 2005 due to hearing loss.
Research has found that 34 percent of people with partial hearing loss and 32 percent of people with total hearing loss are not in the labour force, as compared to 21 percent of people with no hearing loss.
Impact in the workplace
People with hearing loss on average earn less money. Research has found that average weekly incomes vary based on an individual’s capacity to hear. For people:
- without hearing loss, average weekly earnings were $450–$574
- with partial hearing loss, average weekly earnings were $320–$449
- with total hearing loss, average weekly earnings were $225–$319
The health and wellbeing impact
Hearing loss also increases the likelihood of suffering from other serious health conditions including depression, dementia and various mental health disorders.
Research has also found that people with a hearing loss report high levels of dissatisfaction across a wide range of issues including:
- financial wellbeing
- feelings of community connectedness
- perceptions of social relations.
- Access Economics, 2006, Listen Hear – The economic impact and cost of hearing loss in Australia.
- Anthony Hogan, 2001, Hearing Rehabilitation for Deafened Adults – A psychosocial approach, Whurr Publishers.
- The 2012 Libby Harricks Memorial Oration, Deafness Forum Limited.
- The Senate Community Affairs References Committee, 2010, Hear Us: Inquiry into Hearing Health in Australia, Commonwealth of Australia.