hearing-loss-in-the-workplace

Dealing with

The world of work varies hugely, with diverse workplaces, roles, and requirements. Fortunately, good hearing aids can solve most of the problems caused by hearing loss at work. However, these tips might be just the inspiration you need to make life easier in particular circumstances.

Will you need support from your colleagues?

It depends on the extent of your hearing loss and the impact it might have on your work. So make a realistic assessment, then tell any people you need to – and as many people as you are comfortable with.

If you do decide to tell people, try to adopt the attitude that it is you who must take the initiative. You need to tell people and make it clear what you need. People aren’t very good at guessing how to help others with hearing loss, so you will need to work in a positive way to create the conditions you need.

speak-out

Speak out and speak often

Audiologists know there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution for people with hearing loss.

Everyone has individual needs, so other people cannot know what your needs are unless you tell them. Telling them also shares the responsibility of ensuring you understand. Do not apologise, be positive, and don’t worry – it’s in everyone’s interest you can follow what’s going on.

  • If someone speaks too fast, ask them to speak more slowly

  • When you introduce yourself to new people, you can say you have hearing loss, and tell them what they can do to help you

  • Some people will forget, so you may need to remind them to look at you or speak up

inform-yourself

Inform yourself, then inform your employer

Don’t just passively rely on your employer – they may not know much about hearing loss.

Find out about your rights and your needs, and then tell your employer in a constructive way how they need to meet them. Support and advice are available through hearing loss charities and organisations, so search for ones in your area.

  • Prepare the information for your employer: print out or email information

  • Find out about government schemes, laws, and other sources of support such as awareness training for your colleagues

  • Ask your hearing care provider for advice, materials and guidelines so you are prepared

Find a hearing care professional near you

network-with-others

Network with others who have hearing loss

It can be very useful to share experiences about hearing loss. People who have dealt with it already can be very supportive and offer all sorts of practical tips. 

  • People who have hearing loss in your workplace can help you adjust and tell you about any strategies and policies already in place

  • Seek out people of your own age, perhaps beyond your company or organisation

  • Look into online forums and networking groups in your area

Missing out on informal conversations can quickly lead to feelings of isolation and lack of morale. If you struggle, we suggest you contact a hearing care professional.

stay-positive

Stay positive and adapt the way you work

People with hearing loss may feel they have to work extra hard to prove themselves. Their confidence takes a knock and they question whether they can still do the job at the same level. Well, you can. You are still the same person with the same skills and experience, but you may need to make some simple changes. 

  • Find a quiet place to work with good acoustics – try clapping your hands and listen to the echo

  • Book a quiet meeting room when you chat to people, instead of struggling at your desk

  • Arrange ways to work that suit you, such as more face-to-face meetings and fewer phone calls

safety-first

Think of safety first

Be aware and be realistic about the dangers of your workplace. Do you need extra considerations? Are there some activities you should avoid if you can’t hear shouted warnings? Can you hear alarms? Perhaps you need a buddy to ensure you are alerted in the event of a fire.

  • Don’t fake that you’ve heard something, get the speaker to repeat it – misunderstandings can be costly or even dangerous

  • If you travel for work, tell the hotel staff that you have hearing loss and need them to alert you if there is an alarm

Hearing aid users need to ensure their devices are working well and their batteries have sufficient life left – especially if you work in dangerous environments.

See how to test hearing aids batteries

reconsider-phones

Reconsider phones and radios

Many people with hearing loss find phone calls and radios difficult to use.

Be realistic about your limitations and needs, and embrace alternatives such as video conferencing, email or instant messaging. Other modern technologies can really minimise your problems. Consider hearing aids that connect to loop systems using a coupler, louder speakers, earphones, or speech-to-text-reporters. Also:

  • Find a quiet room to make calls

  • Make the person you are talking to aware of your hearing loss

  • Keep calls short

  • Confirm key points at the end (a good tip in general!)

Modern hearing aids such as Oticon Opn connect to your mobile phone via Bluetooth, for simple, hands-free calls.

Discover how Oticon Opn can connect to phones

set-meetings-up

Set meetings up so they suit you

Meetings can be a challenge, especially larger ones. The main speaker may be further away, and multiple people may be talking. However, you can make them much easier with a bit of subtle preparation.

  • If possible, ask for a script that you can read before the presentation

  • Read the agenda so you know what people will be talking about

  • Arrange meetings around a table so you can see everyone’s face

  • Inform your colleagues of your needs e.g. ‘Please speak one at time‘

Hearing aid users can get a personal listener microphone that transmits the speaker’s words to your hearing aids.

plan-interviews

Plan interviews and job applications

Should you tell prospective employers? It is up to you.

Some people do, and some don’t – but you don’t need to. It is a very personal decision that may depend on how your hearing loss could affect your performance.

One thing is for sure: you don’t need to mention your hearing loss in your cover letter or CV – you wouldn’t mention if you wear glasses either. At this stage, being well qualified for the job is all that matters.

Hearing aid users: ensure you have fresh batteries.

  • Tell them before an interview if you need any extra communication support

  • Bring useful information about your hearing loss e.g. communication and equipment needs

  • Practise positive ways to talk about any effects, such as: “Phone calls are harder, but I’m very good with video chats and have never had a problem”

  • If they schedule a phone interview, it’s fine to request a face-to-face one instead

  • Relax. Keep in mind that there are plenty of other job seekers out there dealing with hearing loss

  • How our hearing works

    We hear with our brain – not with our ears. Get to understand the normal hearing process

  • Getting help

    What to do when you suspect hearing loss, and the process of finding the right solution

  • Core technologies

    Read about the technology inside our Oticon hearing aids.

  • Find a hearing centre

    A hearing care professional can test your hearing and devise a treatment that suits you