We all want to be successful at work, and navigate our work-related and social conversations on the job with ease. For those with hearing loss, this can be especially difficult. If you’re working with hearing loss, never fear! These quick and easy tips can help create a workplace environment where you not only survive, but thrive.
Know Your Rights, and Ask for Your Accommodations
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a law that mandates all workplaces provide reasonable accommodations to their employees with disabilities. Did you know that hearing loss is included under this protected umbrella? That’s right. You have the legal right to reasonable accommodations that will help you better function in the workplace environment, at no cost to you. It may feel scary to ask your employer for the accommodations you need to be successful, but it is important to remind them that it will be mutually beneficial to you both. Chances are, your employer will be more than willing to accommodate you, as they want you to be effective as well.
Here are a few examples of some reasonable accommodations that may be requested to assist with hearing loss in the workplace.
Location, Location, Location
This one can make a huge difference in your productivity, and is extremely easy (and free) for your employer to provide. If you need to sit in the front row to actively participate in trainings or meetings, say so! The meetings and trainings exist because your employer wants you to hear and participate, so help them help you. The location of your office or cubicle can also have an impact on your ability to hear. If your desk is located close to background noise such as the employee lounge or copy machines, ask to be relocated to a quieter area where you can better perform your work duties.
Get it in Writing
It is important for everyone to be prepared at work, but this can be even more imperative for those with hearing loss. Prior to an important meeting, make sure to gain access to a written agenda, so you can better following along with the conversation. It is also reasonable to ask your employer to assign a note-taker for the meeting, therefore, you can fill yourself in on any potentially missed details after the discussion concludes. There is also a plethora of technology available to turn spoken word into written language. One of the best programs is called Computer Assisted Real Time Transcription or CART. CART will take the words spoken and will transcribe these into words on your computer screen live and in real time. Although this program will be an initial financial investment for your employer, the payoff of your output will be well worth it!
Request Necessary Technology
If you regularly participate in large meetings or conferences, it may be worth it to ask your employer to install a hearing loop throughout the meeting room. Hearing loops use wireless signals to transmit sounds from microphones directly to your hearing aids. Even the use of a simple microphone can be a powerful tool for helping you participate in the workplace.
Steps You Can Take
Although it is mandated that your employer provide requested accommodations, there are also many steps you can take independently to make working with hearing loss a lot easier.
Help Them Help You and Don’t Pretend
Your co-workers, clients, and employers want you to hear what they are saying to you. The worst thing you could do is simply nod along and pretend to hear. Most people are more than willing to accommodate for hearing loss if they are told what to do. An example may be as simple as asking the speaker to meet in a quieter room, asking people to face you when they talk to you, or even asking people to repeat themselves. If you are shy about asserting yourself in this way, practice with a family member or friend. You’ll be surprised how much easier this gets and how receptive people are the more times you practice it.
Get Your Hearing Aids Checked
If you’ve had your hearing aids for many years or do not use hearing aids, it is a good idea to schedule an appointment with us at Neighborhood Hearing Aid Center. Sometimes, a good fine-tuning of your aids may fix many of your issues hearing at work. Other times, new hearing aid technology may be the answer for you. If you are struggling to hear at work or at home, reach out to our friendly team at Neighborhood Hearing Aid Center today. We look forward to hearing from you.