Working with Hearing Loss

Working with Hearing Loss

Hearing loss not only affects your communication with your loved ones but has a tendency to have profoundly negative effects on performance in the workplace. As constant miscommunications compile over time, coworkers and employers are more likely to pass up untreated hearing-impaired employees for promotions and raises. In fact, one study estimated that the workforce who is hearing impaired makes on average $12,000 less annually compared to people with treated or healthy hearing. The important thing to understand is that you don’t have to suffer in silence. It is all too common for people to ignore or put off treating hearing loss which only makes matters worse. However, when you are open about your hearing loss you may find that there are many ways that your employers are required to make accommodations for the all too common and serious disability which is hearing loss.

Recognizing Hearing Loss

It is estimated that 48 million or 15% of people in the US suffer from hearing loss. The Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) estimates that 60 percent of people in the US with hearing loss are in a professional or educational setting. Despite how common hearing loss is, it’s all too common to ignore or deny this condition. This is often due to the stigma of old age or not feeling that treatment is worth the investment. However, nothing could be further from the truth. When hearing loss goes untreated it affects your personal and professional life, affecting self-esteem, self-confidence and mobility. This in turn can lead to chronic depression, self-isolation, lack of exercise and many associated health risks such as heart disease, hypertension, diabetes and cognitive decline. While hearing loss is often irreversible it is effectively treated with hearing aids which have been found to increase earnings and repair communication issues. 

On Untreated Hearing Loss and Income

A 2007 study from the Better Hearing Institute surveyed 80,000 people about their hearing health. Of the 31 million people who admitted to some hearing loss the study found that 63 percent were still currently working. The study discovered that a household with a working member with untreated hearing loss earned about 2.25 thousand dollars less for each decline of decibels in hearing ability. However, for households in which a person used hearing aids to treat their hearing loss, the loss in earnings was on average half when compared to those whose hearing loss was untreated.

Disclosing Your Hearing Loss

If you have been recently diagnosed with a hearing loss it can be difficult to navigate how to navigate this newly discovered disability. While hearing aids are not the same as original hearing, the important thing to remember is that they can help significantly. Be open about your hearing loss. Not only does this give you a chance to communicate to others in the workplace about what you need to hear the best but hearing loss is a disability protected by law. If you experience hearing loss, The American Disability Act states that your employer is required to provide reasonable accommodations for you in the workplace. 

Reasonable Accommodations

But what exactly do reasonable accommodations look like? The ADA states that reasonable accommodations “allow you to match the same performance levels as hearing co-workers in equal positions and enjoy the benefits/perks of employment available to other employees.” This is different for everyone with hearing loss as certain variables will affect what works best. You may ask for the use of a telecoil in your office which sends information from a loudspeaker directly to your hearing aids. Reasonable Accommodations may also look like asking for a quieter location to work so that it will not interfere with your ability to hear. While by law you are not required to tell people about your hearing disability in the workplace it can help you to succeed in hearing clearly and increase your earnings all at once.

Hearing Aids in the Workplace

Hearing aids have been proven time and time again to increase your ease in social environments. Don’t put off dealing with your hearing loss as it will ultimately catch up with you in time and by then the damage may already be irreversible. Make an appointment today to have your hearing tested and continue to feel capable and valued in the workforce.