Content Design London

What we’ve learned about users with hearing loss

Published 9 June 2021, by Marina Strano, David O'Driscoll and Jasmine Nugent in Academy.

This year’s Content Design Academy project with the Royal National Institute for Deaf People (RNID) deals with an audience with particular needs: people who are deaf or experiencing hearing loss. We need to understand our users’ emotions, pain points, and goals to deliver targeted, user-focused content.  From the user research, we learned:

  • the audience’s online search behaviour and communication style,
  • the way our users feel about applying for and keeping a job,
  • what this means for our content writing

People with hearing loss search online like everybody else

The majority of our audience don’t use words like “hearing loss”, or “deaf person” when searching for improvements in their work life. People with hearing difficulties communicate differently. They rely more on:

  • facial expressions,
  • lip-reading,
  • body language.

Acknowledging employees’ communication style and preferences help workplaces be more inclusive. It enables collaboration and allows people with hearing difficulties to build their confidence.

People with hearing loss want the same work opportunities as their peers

The research found that our users feel:

  • anxiety about finding work,
  • anxiety about losing their jobs,
  • frustration with the lack of inclusivity at work.

People in the interviews discussed communication challenges during job interviews. They don’t know when to tell a future employer about their hearing difficulty. They fear they may face discrimination during the hiring process. 

Our users fear losing their jobs because of how performance in the workplace is connected with communication skills. When the workplace isn’t designed to support their needs, they face communication barriers and challenges to understand and be understood. These challenges impact how employers perceive their performance and affect their career progression. 

Empowering people to feel safe to disclose their conditions is key. They want their hearing loss to be acknowledged by their employers and coworkers, not to feel discriminated against. 

Keep it simple 

  • Write from the user’s perspective.
  • Structure content to answer user needs you uncovered.
  • Write content that is easy to understand.

Understanding our users’ online search behaviour and communication style helps us design content from their point of view. Being aware of how the audience feels about finding and keeping a job gives us focus. We aim to meet users’ needs in as few words as possible. Writing about what they want to know, we can deliver targeted, user-centered content.

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