The workday may pose its fair share of challenges for hard of hearing employees. The concentration required for communication all day can lead to feelings of discouragement and exhaustion, but with preparation, flexibility and openness, this can be avoided. Read on for some simple tips on how to thrive in the workplace with hearing loss.
Read up on your rights
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA act), requires your employer to make reasonable accommodations to allow people with hearing loss to succeed on the job. It is also against the law for them to discriminate against you based on your level of hearing. Whether you need assistive technology, changes to your work area, or a sign language interpreter, it is always a good idea to take the first step and ask. Except in special circumstances, your employer is required to provide the accommodations you need, and it will help both you and the company in the long run.
Be prepared to speak up for yourself
In your workplace, there may be certain accommodations that will make your days less stressful and the task of listening easier–don’t be afraid to ask for them. Small group discussions are often easier for hard of hearing participants if they are held at a round table, so that everyone’s face is in view. If your coworkers tend to talk over each other, ask the meeting leader to remind everyone to talk in turn, at the start of the meeting. Also, if there are certain positions and tasks at your workplace that you are better suited for than others, be open with your employer about your desire to fill a quieter, less hectic role
Preparation is key
Putting a little extra work in beforehand to make sure you are prepared for the day will go a long way. Getting a written agenda of an upcoming meeting beforehand will mean that you have a much easier time following along, according to University of Arkansas audiologist Samuel Atcherson. And if the meeting minutes are not automatically emailed or handed out to everyone, ask for copy so you can review what has been said and decided on.
Get a helping hand from technology
If you have a job where you frequently attend large meetings, you want to be able to participate fully, without worrying about your hearing. With this in mind, you might want to consider asking your company to install a loop system in the meeting rooms. This system makes use of wireless technology and magnetic signals to convey sound from the speaker’s microphone to a wire that loops around the room. This means that your hearing aids or cochlear implants will be able to pick up sound no matter where you are seated, and it will be only the sounds that you want to hear, no background noise. Enquire also about FM systems, which send sound through radio waves, and can be very effective as well.
Don’t pretend like you understand when you don’t
The effort of listening or having to ask people to repeat themselves at work all day may wear you out, and you may sometimes simply act as though you have heard and understood something, even if you haven’t. But actually, making effort to understand your coworkers–though it may be difficult–is vital to your success on the job. Rather than nodding along when you are lost in a conversation, ask the speaker (politely) to stop and paraphrase what they have just said. If you are talking in a noisy place, ask to relocate the conversation to a quieter area.
Hearing aids are your best tool
Many people postpone trying hearing aids to treat their hearing loss, and suffer from communication difficulties as a result. But on the job, hearing aids are vital in helping you succeed and ensuring the safety of yourself and others. Hearing devices are also smaller and more thoughtfully designed than ever, with the ability to connect to your phone, hone in precisely on speech, reduce background noise, and significantly reduce stress and listening effort.
If you struggle to hear others in the workplace and it has affected your job performance, visit us at Preferred Hearing Centers for a hearing exam today. Hearing aids are the key to a brighter work future, so don’t delay.