Woes of a hearing-impaired civil engineering graduate turned cleaner

 He is hard of hearing; however, despite his disability, 30-year-old Fred Addo strived hard to pursue higher education after a philanthropist offered him a full schol­arship to further his education to the tertiary level.

The term hard of hearing is used to describe people who have some degree of hearing loss but still have some re­sidual hearing. They may have difficulty understanding speech or hearing sounds, especially in noisy environments or when people speak softly. The degree of hearing loss can vary widely and may be caused by a range of factors such as age, genetic factors, exposure to loud noise, infections, and other medical conditions.

Now a graduate of the Accra Tech­nical University with a High National Diploma (HND) in Civil Engineering, Fred is currently working as a cleaner at a hotel, earning GH¢400.00 as salary.

After his cleaning duties in the morn­ing, he continues to do mobile banking for a microfinance firm during the day and closes after 5 p.m each day, earning payment of GH¢285.00 monthly, mak­ing a total of GH¢735.00 on which he survives each month.

When the Ghanaian Times caught up with the young man to have an in-depth conversation with him about his trials, he revealed that he had tried many times since his graduation in 2018 to apply for jobs but failed to secure one due to his disability.

He said he had been told by many people on different occasions that but for his hearing impairment, they could have given him the job he sought, and “this makes me very sad. It has affected my confidence, so at the moment I do not feel comfortable when I am in the midst of people. I always feel dejected and worried”.


Fred’s hearing problems, he said, start­ed when he was eight years old after his father, an alcoholic, slapped him several times one day.

He stated that he had always suffered physical abuse from his father, who always attacked him and beat him merci­lessly without provocation.

“My father always assaulted me as a child, any time he returned home drunk. We were never happy and safe at home when he was around, and because our mother was helpless, she also could not offer us enough protection from our abusive father. My father passed away in 2014,” he added.

He stated that his mother took him to the hospital after he started feeling severe pains in his right ear and difficul­ty hearing. He was later referred to the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital (KBTH), Accra, where he received treatment for his ear problem.

Explaining, he indicated that after the initially prescribed drugs that he was put on by the doctor at KBTH, his mother could not afford to take him back to the hospital again due to financial issues and rather took him to a prayer camp upon advice from his aunties (mother’s sisters).

“These so-called men of God wors­ened my plight as they poured different kinds of oil into my ears. After my encounter with them, my ear pain got worse, and I could no longer hear any sound with my right ear again. As time went by, my left ear also started hurting, and gradually hearing became difficult. I can only hear loud sounds, and this has affected my communication to a very large extent,” he lamented.

Fred indicated that he believed employers were rejecting him mainly because of his hearing disability, and the lack of adequate support and accommo­dations for hearing impaired individuals in Ghana had further made his case worse.

He lamented that he had come to a point where hope was almost lost due to the lack of opportunities available for his personal and professional growth as a qualified civil engineer.

“My condition does not make me incompetent; Ghana should please allow me to show this country and the world at large that my only problem is that I am hard of hearing; I can work and perform well. My disability should not disqualify me. I need support, so some­one should give me the opportunity to show the world what I can contribute to its growth,” he added.

Research has shown that people who are hard of hearing may benefit from various forms of assistive technology, such as hearing aids, cochlear implants, or other devices that help them to better hear and understand sounds; howev­er, due to financial constraints, Fred is unable to afford any of these and is therefore calling on the public to help him get a hearing aid at least.


Fred sadly revealed to the Ghanaian Times that he once attempted to take his life, adding that as he was getting ready to execute his intentions, one of his co-tenants just walked into his room and found him trying to hang himself and called for help.

On the fateful day, he stated that his co-tenant had just come to his room to discuss an issue with him and found him in that state.

When asked whether he still had sui­cidal thoughts sometimes, he responded in the negative, saying that though things were hard and he was losing all hope, he still hinged on some faith that his story could turn around for the better some­day.

He also disclosed that a German philanthropist whom he had now lost contact with got him a hearing aid when he was in senior high school (SHS), but the device got damaged after using it for some years.

Support for persons with hearing impairment

Supporting people with hearing im­pairments in Ghana requires a multi-fac­eted approach that involves creating awareness, providing resources, and implementing policies and practices that promote inclusion and accessibility.

Raising awareness about hearing impairment, its impact, and how to support individuals with hearing dis­abilities through community education programmes, social media campaigns, and awareness-raising events would go a long way toward reducing stigmatisation and promoting inclusion at all levels. Encouraging and supporting employers to hire individuals with hearing impair­ments by providing training, accommo­dations, and resources to support their inclusion in the workforce is necessary and possible.

By working together, a more inclusive and supportive environment for individ­uals with hearing impairments in Ghana could be created.


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