Hearing Aids in the Workplace
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, 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
Network with others who have hearing lossIt 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 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
Think of safety firstBe 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.