Working with Hearing Loss

Working with Hearing Loss

Many people associate hearing loss with old age, however, according to the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA), of the 15% of Americans who report some degree of hearing loss, about 60 percent are either in the workplace or an educational setting. Hearing loss when unaddressed can impact your earnings at work. Many are passed over for raises and promotions and rate of unemployment for those with hearing loss are disproportionally high. Just because you have hearing loss doesn’t mean you have to let it impact your success at work. Here are a few tips to help you assert yourself for success!

Be Aware of Your Rights

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) recognizes hearing loss as a disability and prohibits employers from discrimination against you. This means that they can not ask you about your disability when interviewing you and cannot terminate your employment on account of your disability. The ADA requires your employer to provide reasonable accommodations for all employees with hearing loss, which can include providing you with an interpreter, assistive listening technology, and changes in working environment to make it easier for you to hear.

Assert Yourself

To take advantage of your rights as a hearing-impaired person, it’s important to be open and ask for what you need. This can mean letting your employers and coworkers know about your hearing loss and how they can make it easier for you to hear. This can include asking people to look you in the eye when speaking so you can take advantage of lip reading or asking a speaker to slow down and take longer passes at the end of sentences to give you time to keep up.

Be Prepared

Meetings can be overwhelming for someone with hearing loss, but a little planning will go a long way. If available, ask for meeting notes ahead of time so you know what to expect. You can also ask for written out minuets of the meeting so you can go over details you may have otherwise missed. 

Seek Accommodations

Take advantage of your ADA rights and ask for the accommodations you need to do your best on the job. It can be hard to know what accommodations may best suit you. Here are just a few which may help:

Ask people to modify their communication style: People often speak quickly or all at once, which can be very confusing for someone with hearing loss. Try asking people to speak one at a time and to face you when speaking so you can follow with greater ease.

Take advantage of tech: There are so many technological advancements in hearing accommodation which can make your time at work seamlessly easier. This can include an induction loop, which sends amplified sound directly to your ears, to decrease interference from competing noises. 

Talk to Text: Ask your employer to invest in tech that translates spoken words to readable text. Computer Assisted Real Time Transcription (CART) projects words onto a large screen or your laptop as they’re spoken. This technology is incredibly helpful in meeting. You may also benefit from portable devices such as the UbiDuo 2, which allows you and a coworker to type to each other face-to-face. For video conferences make sure to take advantage of captioning which translates what is said into closed captions at the bottom of the screen.

Don’t Pretend to Hear

It can be exhausting to work with hearing loss. Certain co-workers may be harder to hear, due to the tone of their voice being out of your comfortable listening range. However, try your best not to pretend to hear. It can be tempting, as you may feel embarrassed to stop the speaker and ask them to repeat or clarify. However, this can make things much worse, as it can lead to mistakes, misunderstandings, and less reliance on your performance at work. If you can’t hear what someone says, ask them to write it out or change their wording.

Address Your Hearing Loss

The most common treatment for hearing loss is hearing aids. If you have hearing loss in the workplace, hearing aids can help significantly in decreasing your risk of loss of earnings and unemployment. If you feel you are struggling to hear at work, don’t let it go unaddressed. Contact us today to schedule a hearing exam!