Finding and keeping a job is difficult enough in the best of circumstances, and having a hearing impairment in the workplace complicates things even more.
“Our ability to hear significantly deteriorates with age, even if we don’t suffer from any kind of hearing complications”.
That means that a significant number of individuals will develop some sort of hearing loss during their working life.
There is a number of factors that determine the impact of hearing impairment in the workplace, and on a person’s life, but the most important is the nature of a person’s work and the severity of their hearing loss.
Some occupations require a little or even none adjustment for hearing impaired as they don’t involve too much communication and interaction with other people, while others are more complicated and harder to adjust.
Certain laws prevent discrimination in the workplace based on disability and assure proper accommodation for hearing impaired.
“Your employer is obliged to provide reasonable accommodation which includes modifying existing equipment or, if that is not possible, providing new devices suitable for your disability”.
However, if accommodating an employee with a disability will pose a hardship on the employer, he is not obliged to do so. Various factors are considered when making this kind of decision, such as financial costs and available public funding.
Stand up for yourself
Sometimes hearing loss develops slowly over the years, and it can take some time for you to realize the effects that it is having on your life, especially your work performance.
“If you experience difficulties like struggling to follow what people say during meetings, or if you’re having a hard time understanding speech over the phone, it may be time to check your hearing”.
If you are diagnosed with hearing impairment you may find it tempting at first to hide it from your employer and colleges. But that will do no good for you or your employer.
If you don’t talk openly about it, your work performance will suffer. However, telling your employer about your recently developed disability will ensure that you’ll get the proper support and equipment you need at work.
People with hearing impairment can face many complications in the workplace, so it is necessary to develop your own personal strategy on how to deal with those challenges. But the most important thing is to learn how to advocate for yourself.
Don’t hold back on standing out for yourself because no one can understand better than you what you are going through and what you need to feel and function better. So, feel free to propose communication solutions that are best suited for you.
Don’t delay treatment
Apart from informing your employer and colleges about your hearing impairment and necessary adjustments, there are some things you can do to improve your hearing experience as well.
Having a regular checkup with your audiologist is a step in the right direction. He will determine the severity of your hearing impairment, possible causes, and the best treatment option. If necessary, he’ll also help you to find hearing aids suited to your specific level and type of hearing loss.
A qualified medical specialist will also inform you of ongoing medical advances that may help you, whether it’s various surgery options of new and advanced hearing aids.
This way you can find not only what makes you hear better but what looks right for you as well. You can restore not only your hearing but also confidence and communication at work and in your personal life.
Delaying treatment only limits your personal relationships and your career.
How colleges can help
Individuals with hearing impairment may feel isolated at work which prevents them from fulfilling their potential and managing tasks in the best possible way. That can have a negative influence not only on their personal work results but on the results of your team as well.
But with the right support from their colleges, they can easily overcome these problems. Reducing communication barriers is a primary responsibility of the employer, but there are things that employees can do as well.
Communication in the work environment can prove challenging not only for an individual with hearing loss but also for those who have no experience with hearing loss in the workplace.
When hard-of-hearing workers are present try to do the following
- Face them when you speak – this can help them to read lips if necessary.
- Speak clearly – being loud doesn’t help if you jumble your words.
- Communicate primarily with e-mail – this way you can remove barriers that come with verbal communication. When talking on the phone make it as short as possible, and make sure to confirm key points at the end of the call.