Of the 48 million Americans who have hearing loss, the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) estimates that about 60% are in either the workplace or an educational setting. Hearing loss should never stop you from having your dream career, but you’ll likely need a few accommodations. Below we’ve compiled some resources and strategies to help you succeed.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires U.S. employers to provide an equal opportunity for their workers, including those with hearing loss. This means providing reasonable accommodations for you to be able to do your job.
The U.S. Equal Opportunity Employment Commission has a detailed guide on the ADA and on deafness and hearing loss in the workplace. The HLAA also has a number of resources, including a thorough employment toolkit that covers any issue an employee with hearing loss might encounter.
One factor that may help improve your work performance and communication ability is the office layout, more specifically the location of your workplace. Open layouts are fun and collaborative in theory, but they are not always conducive to people with hearing loss. Trying to have a phone conversation while your work neighbor is doing the same is extra difficult when there are no barriers for the sound.
Talk to your manager or HR representative to be put in a private office with a door, if possible. If this is not available, asking to be seated near the edge of the office rather than the middle may offer some respite from noise. Using a padded chair, rugs, curtains, etc. can also help absorb background noise.
It’s important to advocate for yourself and let your coworkers know what your communication needs are. It’s likely the case that your needs have rapidly changed in the past few months since the start of COVID, so remember this must be an ongoing conversation. While in-person meetings might have better served you than phone meetings in the past, you may not have this option anymore. Instead, you can request a video call rather than a phone call so you can still rely on lip reading and other visual cues.
For more information or to schedule an appointment, call Albany ENT & Allergy Services today.