Managing Hearing Loss in the Workplace

Hearing loss can affect your work, but finding the right communication strategies and expressing your needs will help you mitigate the possible effects of hearing loss on your productivity.

Challenges for People with Hearing Loss

Communication problems are among the most daunting obstacles you may face if you have hearing loss. Whether you wear hearing aids or not, your coworkers may not know how to communicate with you effectively. That can lead to misinterpretations, frustration and mistakes.

Is your workplace conducive to quality communication? Your ears might contend with background chatter, as well as printers, fax machines, phones, alarm systems and other noisy machinery. And trying to differentiate voices in a group conversation or conference can be a nightmare.

While the pandemic highlighted the importance of remote conferencing technology, it also presented new challenges to workers with hearing loss. Video chats make lipreading more difficult, which can negatively affect speech comprehension. So, you may find that returning to an in-person environment reduces the job-related complications associated with hearing loss.

ADA Accommodations for Hearing Loss

According to the Americans with Disabilities Act, your employer is legally obligated to provide accommodations for your hearing loss. It’s important to know which type of assistance you’re entitled to, so you can make the most of your work environment.

ADA-required assistance may include:

  • Closed captioning or transcripts on web-based video and audio
  • Access to captioned telephones or mobile captioning apps
  • Video, email or text messaging, as an alternate form of communication
  • Sign language interpreters for conferences and meetings
  • Assistive listening devices
  • Emergency systems with strobing lights and loud alerts

Improving Your Productivity

Here are some tips for managing your hearing loss at work:

  • Ask your coworkers to get your attention before speaking to you and to talk slowly and clearly.
  • Face the speaker and use context clues like facial cues and body language to discern meaning.
  • Ensure there is good lighting around your workspace to support clear communication.
  • Situate your desk, office, cubicle or workspace away from noisy areas and equipment.
  • Ask your employer if their video-conferencing application has closed captioning
  • Ask for agendas before meetings so you can follow along.
  • Identify which listening environments are challenging and talk with your employer about providing accommodations for those scenarios.
  • Optimize your remaining hearing with hearing aids. Audiologists can adjust hearing device settings to address your needs at work.
  • If you have hearing aids, ask your audiologist about directional mics, hearing loops and Bluetooth connectivity. Those features help reduce background noise and improve sound clarity.

Is hearing loss affecting your ability to perform well at work? The expert team at Hearing Associates can help you find the right hearing aids. Call 888.760.2032 or contact us online to schedule your appointment.