The final stretch of comprehensive school brings difficult questions regarding further studies and career choice for any young person. As in the case of others, the starting point of a career choice for a young person with hearing impairment must be his/her own strengths, aspirations and interests.
However, at a young age it can be difficult to assess the long-term endurance in work duties, especially if there is a known risk of deterioration in hearing. Therefore, guidance on a hearing-impaired young person’s career choice should be focused on more than usual.
His/her dreams should not be broken, but the young person should be encouraged to fit them in with education and career plans that are suitable in terms of hearing. The future success of the career should not rely too much on hearing, as continued exertion can lead to exhaustion.
Realism in plans
Support for education and career choices can be obtained from, in addition to close relatives and friends, from the young person’s own school’s student advisor and the hearing centre’s rehabilitation counselor. The student advisor should have the basic information about the hearing impairment and about taking it into account in the career choice. He/she can organise visits to schools and workplaces, so that the visualisation of the education and work opportunities can be determined.
In turn, the rehabilitation counselor is a link between the young person and his/her parents, and the health care professionals, education institutions and authorities. He/she will also provide information on assistive devices and different forms of rehabilitation and support. When the young person is turning 16, at the latest, and the adolescent rehabilitation allowance is being applied for from Kela, wider support for further education ideas can be obtained.
The hearing-related challenges that an adolescent faces may be a very sensitive matter, and not everyone is willing to accept support that is offered. At the hearing centre, young persons’ will to succeed in the same way as everyone else, is understood, but many also feel it is their duty to awaken them to realistic plans.
A challenge can also be a barrier
In some occupations, weak hearing may jeopardise the employee’s own or other people’s safety, and therefore, such work is not suitable for hearing impaired people. Professions that have been excluded pursuant to legislation are, for example in the military, marine and aviation sectors as well as rail and road transport occupations. Normal hearing will also be required, for example, in police, speech therapist and audiologist duties.
In customer service duties or duties that require a lot of talking on the phone, impaired hearing may, in turn, become an insurmountable challenge for carrying out the work duties. FM system-like assistive tools may, however, facilitate the work in many positions. In terms of hearing protection, loud work or continuous exposure to noise is not recommended.
The path can be changed later
Even though major decisions must be made at an early age, they are not definitive. Not only does working life and job descriptions change, a new path can be applied for themselves. Later, further education can be attended, a change of field can be made or a business can be started. Very few continue to work in the same duties for their entire career.
Some may find their own thing at an early age, but others may look for their place for a long time. Kela offers vocational rehabilitation services as support, such as work and education try-outs, work training and rehabilitation courses.
In addition to study and rehabilitation counselors, assistance for future plans can be sought from, for example, Kuulo-Auris primary school’s leavers camps, peer support and the Employment and Economic Development Office. Information has also been collected to these pages about further studies.
The article is based on an interview with TAYS’s hearing centre’s rehabilitation counselor.
Video recording and editing: Tuomas Linna
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