Learn how to advocate for yourself if you experience hearing loss at work.
Navigating the workplace with hearing loss can present unique challenges. Communicating with your co-workers and advocating for your own hearing needs can help make workplace experiences go more smoothly.
Here are six hearing loss advocacy tips to help you accommodate for hearing loss at work:
- Let others know if you have difficulty hearing
- Share your communication preferences
- Ask for captioning tech at work
- Encourage hearing loss protection around noise
- Talk with your manager about accommodations
- Know your rights
Let’s dive into these workplace hearing loss advocacy tips.
Let others know if you have difficulty hearing
If you feel comfortable, let your coworkers know about your hearing loss and that you may experience difficulty hearing in certain situations. Telling your colleagues individually can help them understand the challenges may you face in the workplace, and how they can help by learning your communication preferences. Having individual coworkers aware of your communication preferences can also help in larger meeting situations, if you need to move seats, for example, or by turning off any background music.
Share your communication preferences
Whether you let coworkers know in a conversation or share printed reminders, it’s a good idea to be open about your communication needs. Your tips can include:
- Facing you directly when they speak (for better acoustics and lip-reading)
- Getting your attention non-verbally before starting a conversation (e.g., eye contact or tapping on the shoulder)
- Sending an email instead of calling
- Scheduling meetings in quiet places
Your coworkers share your goal of wanting effective communication. Not only will they be happy to accommodate, they’ll appreciate your openness and clarity about best practices.
Ask for captioning tech at work
If your job involves a lot of time spent on phone or video calls, you know how important captioning can be. Fortunately, there are options available that can make calls much easier that include captions! Check out these tips for virtual meetings with hearing loss, and consider seeing if you can get a CapTel captioned telephone set up at your desk. Here’s some more hearing loss technology for work that may be helpful.
Encourage hearing loss protection around noise
Hearing loss advocacy doesn’t just have to include speaking up for your own needs — it can also include educating others about important things you’ve learned. For instance, if you’re working in a loud work environment, encourage your coworkers to protect themselves with earplugs headsets. Check out these other ways to protect your hearing at work for more ideas you can share with your coworkers.
Talk with your manager about accommodations
If your workplace isn’t already set up to accommodate employees with hearing loss, your managers may be unaware of technology and best practices available. Consider sharing this article on creating a hearing-loss-friendly work environment or use those tips as a starting point for your own workplace environment.
Know your rights
You should never feel like your hearing loss is an inconvenience to your employer. Under United States law, employers are obligated to provide an equal opportunity workplace for people with hearing loss. Read up on your rights under the Americans With Disabilities Act here, so you know what kind of questions employers can ask, what accommodations they should provide, and more.