Adults who Experience Hearing and Vision Impairment are Particularly Susceptible to Being Unemployed
A recent study revealed that American adults who have both hearing loss and vision problems, known as dual sensory impairment (DSI) are not as likely to have a paid occupation.
The research indicated that American adults who experience DSI have 40 percent less of a chance at becoming employed, whereas individuals who only have either hearing or vision impairment had 20 percent less of a chance at becoming employed.
Previous research had recorded lower rates of employment for people who either had hearing or vision loss, studies at the time had not been conducted on people who had dual sensory impairments. These individuals may be at a high risk of being unemployed.
Disability & Unemployment
Statistics from the 2008 to 2017 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) showed responses from 277, 251 test subjects between the ages of 18 to 75 years old. The test subjects included the following: those who did not have a sensory impairment, those who did have a vision impairment, those who only had a hearing impairment and those who had DSI.
The majority (61 percent) of these participants who had DSI reported that they were unemployed. Out of these participants, 51 percent claimed that their unemployment was due to their disability. Only 46 percent of visually impaired participants and 44 percent of participants with hearing loss were unemployed.
This supports results from previous studies that have shown lower rates of unemployment in people who had sensory impairments, which could be due to the fact that they have more difficulty with entering and staying in the workforce. Those who have DSI could be susceptible because they cannot depend on a sensory substitute that would enable them to overcome their impairment.
There are both important insights and limited insights to how adults with DSI are vulnerable when it comes to unemployment.
The data are an estimate in functional sensory impairment and are based on participant self-report, which tend to be underreported. As a result, observed associations between impairment and unemployment are most likely underestimated.
The NHIS study did not have members who are on active duty and in the Armed Forces participate in the study, so the study is not based on that population.
Examinations based on self-reported impairments of each person, and future studies to analyze objective measures (pure tone audiometry, visual acuity, etc.) provide clinically significant definitions of impairment that can be compared across all studies.
Advocating for the Deafblind in the Workplace
These studies will hopefully start a nationwide conversation about the employment of individuals who have DSI. A planned set of strategies are needed to engage with them and accommodate their needs on the job.
The studies also recommend that those with vision impairment and hearing loss could benefit from more research on better access to eyeglasses, hearing aids, low-vision rehabilitation, and using both eyeglasses and hearing aids.
They concluded that due to the growth in the aging population, the amount of people with DSI will most likely rise, which highlights the importance of access to public health.