Working with Hearing Loss

In the US, hearing loss is a condition that affects about 20 percent of the population or 48 million people. The Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) reports that of the15 percent of US citizens with hearing loss, about 60 percent are either in the workforce or an educational setting. While hearing loss is commonly associated with old age, this does not stop hearing loss from affecting people of all ages and their earnings and performance in the workplace. 

If you have just been diagnosed with hearing loss, and you are working, it is essential to let your employer know about your disability. Hearing loss is a recognized disability under the American Disabilities Act, which means that employers are required to provide reasonable accommodations to help support you to perform to your full potential in the workplace. The catch is, that if you are silent about your disability, you aren’t protected. 

Hearing Loss’s Effect in the Workplace

When you suffer from hearing loss it is easy to feel isolated, as it is difficult to hear, and simple conversations can cause you to feel overwhelmed or respond incorrectly. Depending on the nature of your working environment, hearing loss can become a major health issue. If you work around machinery a hearing loss can easily lead you to miss a warning sound or alarm which could harm you or another co-worker. Over time, an undiagnosed or untreated hearing loss can lead to an impact on your performance at work, ultimately affecting earnings and even employment. The Hearing Health Foundations offers these statistics on hearing loss in the workplace:

  • Individuals with hearing loss experience difficulties in employment transition and career development, compared with those with typical hearing.
  • Untreated hearing loss is estimated to on average decrease annual earning for an individual by $30,000.
  • For those working with hearing loss they earned on average 25 percent less than their working peers.
  • Those with severe hearing loss had an unemployment rate (15.6%) double that of the typical-hearing population (7.8%), 

Using Hearing Aids in the Workplace

Hearing loss is most often an irreversible condition, but that doesn’t mean it is not treatable. The most common treatment for hearing loss is hearing aids. These tiny electronic devices are able to be programmed to amplify only the sounds, tones and pitches you struggle with and amplify them in your ear canal. Hearing aids were shown to reduce the risk of income loss by 90 to 100% for those with milder hearing loss, and from 65 to 77% for those with moderate to severe hearing loss.

Workplace Accommodations

Hearing loss can require a little extra work, but if given the care and proper accommodations it should allow you to work on equal footing to your peers with normal hearing. If you have been recently diagnosed with a hearing loss it may take time to figure out what accommodations work best for you. Each person’s needs and work experiences are different and unique. However, most workplaces have dealt with people with hearing loss before and can offer some basic accommodations. Here are a few of the most common accommodations a workplace offers to help you succeed and maintain productivity:

  • Work area adjustments. You can request to move to a quieter location.
  • Assistive Listening Devices (ALDs)/Assistive Listening System (ALS). Find out which kind of systems may work best for you.
  • Telephones. Make sure your telephone or company provided cellphone is Hearing Aid Compatible (HAC) which can provide captioned telephone service.
  • Assignments. Ask your employer to send information via text or email to ensure you are on the same page about important information.
  • Meetings. You can receive the meeting agenda in advance and meeting summaries afterwards.
  • CART (Communication Access Real-time Translation). This transcribes conversation spoken and projects it on a screen.
  • Emergency notification systems. Make sure there are hearing impaired compatible alarms installed with visual cues for your safety in the workplace.

Make Sure You are on Top of your Hearing Health

If you find yourself struggling in the workplace don’t delay in setting up a hearing evaluation. If you have a hearing loss, it could affect your productivity and earnings in the workplace. It’s important to know that it doesn’t have to!

Our team of hearing professionals is here to help you find the best solution to help you achieve your maximum potential in the workplace. Contact us today to schedule an appointment!