My Hearing-Loss Journey: Jenny’s Story

4 mins read

Halfway through my studies at University, I noticed people’s voices were gradually getting quieter and I was able to hear slightly less than I used to. However, I thought little of it at the time. It wasn’t until I started my first Post-Graduate job in 2018 that I realised my hearing was well and truly deteriorating. A colleague was trying to explain her area of the business to me and I could hardly hear her. That’s when I had to take action.

I can recollect trying to find a quiet area of the building I was working in and making a phone call. It was to a local company that dealt with hearing loss. An elderly lady picked up the phone and requested my date of birth. Upon hearing that I was only 21, she told me I could not be losing my hearing as I was “too young” and I was unable to book an appointment to discuss this further.

After countless visits to my GP, Specsavers Hearing, and eventually the NHS, I was told by an Audiologist that I had indeed lost hearing in both ears and that I would be required to wear hearing aids going forward.

During these visits to various healthcare providers, they tried to examine the cause of my hearing loss. I had never worked in a noisy environment, so that was immediately ruled out. They also questioned my family history, but all I knew was that one relative suffered from tinnitus like I do, and another was slightly deaf in one ear, which was due to old age.

I was denied surgery to expand my ear canals, as this was not a particularly safe operation for a younger person to undertake and there was no guarantee it would work to a favourable extent.
But that never bothered me. What did bother me was the way I was treated in my new job.

At first, my colleagues were nice and allowed me a couple of days off while I sorted myself out. It was upon my return to the office that the work environment became challenging for me. My manager at the time did not want people to know what was going on, so she proceeded to inform our team that I had an ear infection.

I couldn’t see why this was what management agreed, why can’t we just tell people the truth? Colleagues were then reluctant to approach me, and I became excluded from meetings. Another staff member would shout at me as they thought loudly raising their voice was helpful. I felt embarrassed and nothing in terms of accessibility or reasonable adjustments was ever offered to me.

Six months into my employment, I was made redundant from this company. But since then, I have worked for organisations where my lack of hearing was never made out to be a problem.

Then in 2023, I came to work for Cognassist, where everyone is celebrated, regardless of their sex, race, gender, neuro differences, impairments, etc. Since finding a job at Cognassist, I have worked alongside others who have encouraged me to share and embrace my impairment.

Cognassist truly is paving the way forward for DEI and I strongly believe we will continue to grow in the neurodiversity space, whilst welcoming others with similar experiences along the way.

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