Hearing loss and transport

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Björn Lyxell
Björn Lidestam

The objective of this study was to examine through a questionnaire how road users with different degree of hearing loss experience safety and mobility in transport situations compared to road users without hearing loss.

Participants were recruited from the local branch of HRF (The Swedish hard of hearing society). A control group without any known hearing loss, matched on age, gender and geographical location, was selected from a commercial database. The individuals with hearing loss were grouped into four groups according the degree of their hearing-loss (mild, moderate, severe and profound).

The results revealed that hearing loss affects some specific aspects regarding transport habits, while others remain unaffected. Individuals with hearing loss are not as likely to have a driving license, but for those who have, hearing loss has no effect on mileage per year. Loss of hearing has an effect on criteria for choosing transportation, but the use of each transportation mode is unaffected. With a few exceptions, hearing loss does not affect the ratings of importance of hearing for different transportation modes. Degree of hearing loss affects most questions regarding hearing in relation to driver abilities, while avoidance of specific traffic situations or environments is only associated with hearing loss in specific situations. Hearing loss has only minor effect on the factors causing inattention when driving and on the interest in a warning system for driver inattention. Preliminary results from open questions point at a general wish for more and complimentary information in all transportation modes, thru texted information, light warnings, traffic light in all crossings etc.

It can be concluded that hearing loss influences the prevalence of driving license and criteria for choosing transportation mode. However hearing loss had no effect on the travelling frequency independent of mode. Respondents with profound hearing loss were less concerned about hearing loss with respect to travelling, indicating a coping strategy. This suggests further research on coping strategies and on design of support systems accessible for drivers with hearing loss.

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