Office workers suffering from hearing impairment often encounter problems while undertaking typical tasks like telephone conversations, meetings and discussions with colleagues. Below you may find advice on how to make life in the office easier for hard of hearing people and their colleagues.
- The room must be well-lit but not so as to blind the occupants. The light must fall in such a way that the face of the speaking person is seen clearly by the hard of hearing person. Large windows providing extremely bright light between the hard of hearing person and the speaking person should be avoided. The glare may prevent the hard of hearing person from seeing the other person's face properly.
- The number of sound sources in the room must be kept at a minimum. Many different sound sources create confusion and irritation.
- Avoid background noise from radios, ventilators and other electrical appliances. The background noise may seem insignificant to people with normal hearing ability, but people who use hearing aids perceive these sounds much more loudly, and this impedes their understanding of speech.
- The acoustics of the room are important. Bare, hard surfaces have a significant resounding effect making it difficult to hear properly. The acoustics can easily be improved by installing special acoustic waffles or cushions, or by use of curtains and carpeting. In office landscapes, partition walls are effective.
- It may help to change the ringing sound of the telephone if it is difficult to distinguish from others. Other possibilities include a flashing indicator light on the telephone or a vibrator which is activated when the telephone rings.
- If it is difficult for the hard of hearing person to hear what is being said on the phone the speech can be amplified or a loop wire can be built into the telephone. Computer screens may interfere with a loop wire, but this problem can be solved by using a TFT screen instead of a CRT (Cathode Ray Tube) screen.
- Sending e-mails and written messages on the company's intranet is a simple way to facilitate communication for a hard of hearing employee.
- The door bell can be fitted with a flashing light or a small vibrator to signal to the hard of hearing person that somebody is at the door.