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Managing Hearing Loss in the Workplace

People with hearing loss often struggle to understand speech at a distance and speech in background noise, as their hearing aids don’t discriminate what is being amplified. In noisy workplaces, especially those with open floor plans, this can be challenging. Here are some ways to optimize your hearing ability in the workplace.

  • ACKNOWLEDGE your hearing loss so you are better prepared for whatever communication challenges you face at the workplace.
  • REMEMBER you bring experience, skills, and strengths to the workplace every day. Your hearing loss does not define you and will not prevent you from performing well.
  • EDUCATE yourself about accommodations such as CART (Computer Assisted Realtime Translation) and assisted listening devices that include FM systems, streamers, amplified/captioned/flashing light phones, and PSAPs (personal sound amplification products).
  • KEEP backup batteries on hand. When traveling for work or leisure, keep a supply of hearing aid batteries you can easily access throughout the day in case your battery dies.
  • ADVOCATE for yourself by asking the appropriate person in your workplace for reasonable accommodations. Emphasize the benefits to your employer.
  • TELL your coworkers about your hearing loss and the best way to communicate with you. Ask them to face you when speaking and to rephrase rather than repeat misheard words. Be prepared to remind them again and again.
  • PREPARE for meetings by requesting the agenda and a list of attendees beforehand, as well as CART and other assistive listening devices, if needed. Arrive early to select a centrally located seat with your back to the window.
    Written communication is also very helpful for people with hearing loss. Whenever possible, request that important messages be sent in a visual format, such as written directions or emails, as opposed to over the telephone.
  • ANTICIPATE your needs for conference calls. Ask for remote CART, followed by the CART transcript. If CART is unavailable, ask colleagues to take notes. During conference calls, ask people to identify themselves each time they speak.
  • MAKE ARRANGEMENTS with colleagues if you can’t hear the fire alarm, pages over the PA system, or other auditory alerts.

Source: Hearing Health magazine, Winter 2017 issue.