People are experiencing hearing loss earlier in their lives than ever before. This means that an increasing number of individuals trying to cope with hearing impairment are entirely in new territory, such as on the job and at the gym. No matter what kind of career you have, hearing loss can be difficult to deal with. It can affect your ability to communicate with your coworkers, interface with customers, and function as part of a team
Workplaces of any kind are challenging to navigate with hearing loss. Most modern work environments are not designed with hearing loss in mind, however, which can put added stress on you in the workplace.
Thanks to the Americans with Disabilities Act, a person with hearing loss cannot be discriminated against in the workplace. However, studies show that on average, individuals with severe hearing loss received annual household incomes of $14,000 less than their counterparts with the mildest hearing loss. On the positive side, researchers also found that treating hearing loss could help improve one’s earning power.
The key to thriving at work is a matter of candor with your supervisors and coworkers. While it can be stressful to discuss your hearing loss with anyone, no one can make your day easier if they are unaware of your challenges. If you suffer from hearing loss, make sure you know how to handle it in a work environment with our simple advice.
SHOULD YOU TELL YOUR EMPLOYER YOU HAVE HEARING LOSS?
One common question people have about hearing loss is whether they should disclose it to their employer. This often stems from nervousness about their condition or even denial that they suffer from hearing problems. However, there are a few very good reasons you should always tell your employer about hearing loss:
- Disclosing your hearing problems gives your employer a real reason why you may not hear or understand important things like phone calls or verbal instructions.
- Disclosure gives you the benefit of protection under the Americans with Disabilities Act, or ADA. This includes protection from discrimination and the benefits of reasonable accommodation.
- Disclosure allows you to start a conversation about how you and your employer can work together to ensure you are performing your best while at work.
In short, you need to be your own advocate when it comes to hearing loss and hearing issues. By advocating for your own needs and working hard to understand and correct problems, you improve your own working situation and make it easier for your employees and coworkers to work with you.
TIPS FOR NAVIGATING THE WORKPLACE WITH HEARING LOSS
BE ORGANIZED AND PREPARED
When you suffer from hearing loss, one of the biggest issues is missing important information. You could miss something during a meeting or phone call, in a conversation with a client, or even in a training video or news report. The best way to cope with this problem is to stay organized and be prepared for difficult situations. This includes:
- Preparing for phone calls with written notes or an agenda;
- Finding a quiet place to work productively in, make phone calls, or hold small meetings;
- Confirm key points during and after meetings or calls, either verbally or through a written follow-up;
- Having alternatives ready, such as email or instant messaging.
BUILD A ROUTINE
Another important part of dealing with hearing loss at work is building a strong routine and sticking to it. Having a strong routine makes it easier for you to cope with the normal tasks at your job, and it also makes it easier to sort out ways to be more efficient.
Here are a few key aspects to building a strong work routine:
- Identify the key people you need to work with to do your job effectively and work with them one-on-one to improve your communication and teamwork.
- Keep your work conditions and environment consistent. This can include finding a quiet place to work from and performing tasks in the same general order every day.
- Recognize that your routine will become easier over time. Early days working in a new workplace or building a new routine can be draining, but it will get easier as you learn your job role and how to communicate well with your team.
DON’T MAKE EXCUSES
Hearing loss can have big effects on the way you work, so it’s important that you don’t pretend or make excuses about it when you’re working. This will do nothing other than set you back in your relationship with other workers and make it harder for you to do your job.
This goes the same for working with customers and clients. People will be much more willing and ready to accommodate you if they know you suffer from hearing loss rather than thinking you’re inattentive or absentminded. If you must rely on your hearing to work well, make sure others know about your hearing loss from the start so they can help compensate.
GET HEARING ASSISTANCE
One final way to improve your performance at work is to get assistance in the form of hearing aids. Hearing aids make it much easier for you to do your job and to adapt to a wide array of circumstances.
Also, if you feel like there is something your employer could do to accommodate your hearing loss, make sure you bring this up. The ADA requires employers to make reasonable accommodations for their employees, and this can include assistive devices such as phone systems that interface with a hearing aid or speech-to-text systems for taking down notes.
For non-work-related communication with co-workers, such as water cooler chat or lunches outside of work, one of the best solutions will also help you in every aspect of your life—finding the right hearing aid for you and your lifestyle.
DESERT VALLEY AUDIOLOGY
If you are ready to explore hearing solutions, contact us at Desert Valley Audiology today—we can guide you through every step of the process, and offer a wide variety of hearing aids to fit your lifestyle and specific hearing needs.