Treat hearing loss like a physical disability.
That's what those suffering the invisible affliction are urging Australians to do, a new report by advocates and industry figures says.
Soundfair's Hear Me report was written off the back of six months of consultation with the deaf community, and found those suffering from hearing loss are met with daily barriers.
Emergency alarms go unheard, background noise in workplaces and public spaces drowns out important conversations, and television and social media videos are often off-limits.
Treatment tends to be singularly focused and expensive, says the report, which includes input from federal minister Mark Coulton.
"I have hearing loss myself ... I know that for too many Australians, hearing loss can lead to emotional, psychological and social damage, as well as economic loss," he wrote in a foreword to the report.
But it doesn't have to be that way, the report insists.
"People with hearing conditions are singled out," it reads.
"It is incumbent on the individual to use technology to mitigate their hearing condition, rather than a general acceptance that good communication is everyone's responsibility."
It calls for the needs of the more than 3.6 million Australians living with hearing loss to be afforded the same level of consideration in workplaces, institutions and public spaces as physical accessibility needs.
"You would never build a building and not include ramps," one contributor to the report noted.
With a quarter of Australians forecast to be living with a hearing condition by 2050, progress is urgently needed - from workplaces, supermarkets and cafes working to reduce background noise, to the introduction of mandatory captioning for emergency announcements.
Also in need of reform is the way deaf and hard of hearing Australians interact with the health system.
"The hearing health system isn't working. It is confusing, expensive, cumbersome," another contributor said.
The cost of hearing aids for many working-age people who are not eligible for NDIS can force them out of the workforce, the report says.
On top of that, little health care beyond hearing aids seems to be made available to those suffering hearing loss.
Mental health and psychosocial intervention is sorely needed, the report says.
Australian Associated Press