Hearing impaired in the workplace

The workday may seem long and hard for hearing impaired employees. Conversations with colleagues, and the concentration needed for communication during the day demand much energy, potentially affecting both mood and work efficiency. Often, the discouraging result is dismissal from the job.

It may be tempting to keep your hearing loss a secret. Some find it embarrassing to tell co-workers or employers about it. Indeed, hearing impaired employees often fail to mention their disability. But over time, an untreated and undisclosed hearing loss creates more problems for all parties involved than would immediate action and openness, even if, at first, it seems daunting to put the facts forward.

It is an established fact that it pays for the employer to listen. Any extra effort to accommodate a hearing impaired employee is rewarded by a stronger effort by the employee for the same pay, according a survey conducted by the magazine for hearing impaired Norwegians, Din Hörsel.

In the following pages you will find practical advice on how to help hearing impaired people function better in the workplace. This advice is directed at hearing impaired individuals as well as their colleagues and employers. If you are hearing impaired or have a hearing impaired colleague, you may benefit, as well, from reading hear-it's general communication guidelines.

Sources: "How's your work life? Assessing and Resolving Hearing Loss-Related Problems in the Workplace", Hearing Loss, November/December 2002, and Din Hörsel, Nr 4, May, 2003.

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