Disclosing Your Hearing Loss
Each person’s needs and workplace experiences are different and unique—there is no one-size-fits-all approach to accommodations. However, in each scenario and in any conversation with human resources and/or your supervisor, it’s important to demonstrate why a specific accommodation or change increases your productivity.
Accommodations You May Request:
- Work area adjustments. Be prepared to explain to your boss how you’d like to be as productive as possible, but how your noisy work area interferes with telephone communications.
- Assistive Listening Devices (ALDs)/Assistive Listening System (ALS). Find out which kind of systems will work for you, get price estimates, and options for places to purchase the systems.
- Telephones. If the telephones on your desk or provided cell phones are not Hearing Aid Compatible (HAC), you are entitled to have them provided.
If you need a captioned telephone service, or specifically, Internet Protocol Captioned Telephone Service (IP CTS), it will need a dedicated line, and a captioned telephone. Once the line is installed, many services are provided free of cost.
- Assignments. Written memos and summaries of discussions and emails will help ensure you and your boss are on the same page. Show initiative and summarize your understanding of all assignments in writing, and email a copy to your boss for confirmation. Keep a file of those assignments and your boss’s confirmation that you are on the right track.
- Meetings. Request the agenda in advance and meeting summaries or notes after the event.
- CART (Communication Access Real-time Translation). A CART writer transcribes every word that is spoken and displays it on a laptop, which can also be projected onto a screen. A transcript can be provided afterward. The CART writer’s code of ethics demands confidentiality, so privacy should never be a concern,
- Emergency notification systems. Strobe lights on fire alarms, vibrating pagers, low and multiple frequency alarms, or other emergency assistive technology should be in place soon after you take the job. While the buddy system is great, ask to be a “triplet” in case one happens to be out during an emergency.
- In-service training. Request accommodations as needed for all in-service training, well in advance.
Federal tax credits and deductions to help offset the cost of accommodations may be available to your employer. Some states also offer tax incentives. Refer to the IRS website: Tax Benefits for Businesses Who Have Employees with Disabilities.