Since 2008, the American Community Survey, conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau, has queried respondents regarding deafness or hearing difficulties. According to these data, about 3.5% of the U.S. population has serious difficulty hearing. Other estimates vary, putting the number higher, especially those that include the numbers of elderly who experience hearing difficulties.
People who are deaf and hard of hearing (DHoH) work in diverse areas of the healthcare field, according to Samuel Atcherson, PhD, associate professor of audiology at the University of Arkansas in Little Rock and registry co-chair for the Association of Medical Professionals with Hearing Losses (www.amphl.org). AMPHL does not have statistics to report on the numbers of DHoH individuals practicing in medical occupations, but Dr. Atcherson noted that, as of 2011, there were 55 physicians, 41 nurses, and eight physician assistants in the membership.
Dr. Moreland and co-authors recently published a national survey that queried deaf physicians and trainees on a variety of subjects (e.g. career satisfaction, satisfaction with education, workplace accommodations). Due to the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, more people with hearing impairments are entering healthcare professions. Technological advances, such as electronic stethoscopes, also contribute to this surge.
The authors found that DHoH physicians and trainees responding to their survey were satisfied with multimodal employment and educational accommodations. Based on these results, they surmise, there might be an opportunity to recruit these individuals and further reach the underserved DHoH patient population.