Navigating hearing loss at the workplace can be tricky, and days at the office can seem long and hard for those who struggle with it. Effective communication is often hard for even those who can fully exercise their hearing faculties, and so it’s especially important for hearing-impaired people to develop strategies to avoid isolation and frustration in their professional lives. Here are our top tips on how to cope with hearing loss at the workplace:
As a person living with hearing loss, you’re entitled to benefits at the workplace so that you are not at a disadvantage. Ensure that you learn about your rights, some of which may include access to practical support and specialist equipment that can help you navigate your day-to-day activities with greater ease.
You shouldn’t think twice about speaking to your boss or manager about the challenges that you face and the reasonable solutions that can implemented to support you. It’s helpful if you clearly chalk out your request before having a conversation like this, and ask to have the conversation behind closed doors so that you’re more comfortable. Thinking of solutions prior to such a conversation may include suggesting that you would fare at work if you could access a captioned phone while speaking with clients, or that a spot at the centre of meeting rooms should be reserved for just you so that you can hear sound from all directions.
Avoid the blanket statement “I’m deaf” and instead explain to your colleagues what the exact nature of your hearing loss is, for instance, that you experience tinnitus or that they should stand closer to your ‘good ear’ when they’re discussing something important. You may have to remind people that you live with hearing loss every now and then because they may forget but remember not to be embarrassed about it in the least. You are not your hearing loss, and by giving yourself a head start and declaring your condition at the office, you’ll find that most people will be happy to accommodate you so that you can shine for your personality, skills, and assets.
You may think your co-worker isn’t lending a helping hand when you think you look like you’re in clear need of support, but perhaps they don’t want to treat you differently or make you feel as though you’re incompetent. There may even be some difficult days where they’re stressed by deadlines, and aren’t as clear when they communicate. While people may have a lot going on their own lives and may occasionally forget that you have hearing loss, mostly they’re trying to avoid behaviour that could possibly offend you. Recognize that and develop strategies – email your colleagues if you aren’t clear about what they said, state your needs to them clearly when they’re schedule frees up, and further conversations with the management team to gain support where you need to.
Whether it’s built-in tinnitus therapy, remote care that dials in a hearing professional to solve your hearing problem in real time, or sound balance that adjusts itself automatically as per the changes in your listening environment – your hearing aid may already have options that you may not have explored as of yet. Sometimes you can also benefit from accessories that can provide greater ease depending on your circumstances. For instance, if you work involves being on your feet or driving a lot, or if you work in hotter environments, you may want to benefit from a hearing aid dehumidifier.
Our mission at Hearing Aid Clinics is to provide hearing-impaired people with greater access to auditory health services by connecting them with free hearing tests and risk-free hearing aid trials in their vicinity. During your free hearing test, you can also consult with the audiologist in terms of your work situation and how hearing solutions can make your life easier.