Professionals with hearing loss: Maintaining that competitive edge

Nancy Tye-Murray, Jacqueline L. Spry, Elizabeth Mauzé

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVES: The goals of this investigation were to gauge how hearing loss affects the self-perceived job performance and psycho-emotional status of professionals in the workforce and to develop a profile of their aural rehabilitation needs. DESIGN: Forty-eight participants who had at least a high school education and who hold salaried positions participated in one of seven focus groups. Participants first answered questions about a hypothetical executive who had hearing loss and considered how she might react to various communication issues. They then addressed questions about their own work-related predicaments. The sessions were audiovideo recorded and later transcribed for analysis. RESULTS: Unlike workers who have occupational hearing loss, the professionals in this investigation seem not to experience an inordinate degree of stigmatization in their workplaces, although most believe that hearing loss has negatively affected their job performance. Some of the participants believe that they have lost their "competitive edge," and some believe that they have been denied promotions because of hearing loss. However, most report that they have overcome their hearing-related difficulties by various means, and many have developed a determination and stamina to remain active in the workforce. The majority of the participants seemed to be unfamiliar with the Americans with Disability Act, Public Law 101-336. The overriding theme to emerge is that professionals desire to maintain their competency to perform their jobs and will do what they have to do to "get the job done." CONCLUSIONS: The situations of professionals who have hearing loss can be modeled, with a central theme of maintaining job competency or a competitive edge. It is hypothesized that five factors affect professionals' abilities to continue their optimal work performance in the face of hearing loss: (a) self-concept and sense of internal locus of control, (b) use of hearing assistive technology, (c) supervisor's and co-workers' perceptions and the provision of accommodations in the workplace, (d) use of effective coping strategies, and (e) communication difficulties and problem situations. The implications that the present findings hold for aural rehabilitation intervention plans are considered, and a problem-solving approach is reviewed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)475-484
Number of pages10
JournalEar and hearing
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 1 2009


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