Hearing loss can impact a variety of aspects in the workplace. It’s important that you educate yourself, know your rights, are aware of resources in the community, and learn to advocate for yourself.
Some issues people with hearing loss may encounter in the workplace:
- Discrimination (overt and covert)
- Being left out of important meetings or missing information
- Unequal opportunities for employment status or wages
- Barriers to communication with coworkers, supervisors or customers
Know Your Rights
It is crucial that you understand your rights as a person with a disability. According to ADA standards, all individuals with disabilities must have access to all aspects of employment, and in many cases the employer is responsible for providing accommodations to ensure accessibility. Call the ADA hotline at 1-800-514-0301 (v) or 1-800-514-0383 (TDD) if you have questions or concerns.
Self advocacy is an important skill to develop in the workplace. It is critical to learn how to request accommodations, disclose your hearing loss to coworkers and supervisors, and educate them on best communication strategies. Here is a brief list of some tools that minimize barriers in the workplace. Tools vary depending on the individual and worksite, so it is necessary that you discover what is appropriate for you and your setting.
- Request staff meeting minutes either before or after meetings
- Be aware of acoustics in work environment
- Is your office next to open windows or crowded hallways?
- Do you work in an open floor with other cubicles?
- During 1:1 or any group discussions make sure you: restate comments/questions, check for comprehension, be aware of the topic
- Become knowledgeable and comfortable with the different assistive listening devices that are available
- Become knowledgeable on the Emergency Plan for people with disabilities
Know your rights as a person with disabilities: Visit the Americans with Disabilities Act site for further details.
Join our Hard of Hearing Support Groups and learn more about how others have successfully advocated for their needs and share your stories.
California Department of Rehabilitation – A state government agency that provides assistance to individuals with disabilities to get back to work, or maintain employment.
Support Groups -Finding a support group where you can learn from other working professionals with hearing loss. The Hearing and Speech Center offers a monthly support group for adults with hearing loss.
Hearing Loss Association- Employment toolkit and other information.
Americans with Disabilities Act – learn about your rights at the ADA website