If you are an employee with reduced hearing, you know that communication at work can sometimes be a challenge. Here are some tips for making your workplace more hearing accessible.
1. Understand your own hearing and communication needs. This includes your type and degree of hearing loss, how your hearing aid (or other hearing technology) works, and situations or environments where you do not hear well. This knowledge allows you to provide effective information and suggestions for improvement to your employer.
2. Wear your hearing device. If you have hearing aids, a cochlear implant or other hearing technology, wear it regularly and ensure you have extra batteries available.
3. Arrange your workstation so that you can see anyone who is approaching you.
4. During meetings or conversations try to position yourself close to the main speaker so that you can see and hear clearly, making it easier for you to lipread. (Don’t know how to lipread? Check out our online course “Read Our Lips.”
5. Let co-workers and visitors know that you have reduced hearing and how they can best communicate with you, such as facing you and speaking clearly.
6. Ask for accommodations from your employer to make your work more hearing accessible. This may include: moving your workstation to a quieter area, using an amplified telephone or an assistive listening device, or requesting a different room set-up for meetings.
7. Sometimes job duties can be modified if they present particular challenges. For example, if you experience challenges communicating by telephone, this duty could possibly be exchanged for others.
8. Make sure the environment is quiet enough for you to hear and understand clearly. Move to a quieter location if there is too much background noise.
9. Be patient with yourself and others. Communicating when you have reduced hearing takes effort. Try to be well rested each day and give yourself time for listening breaks.
10. Educate Yourself. Ask questions. Be aware of the types of technology available to assist you. Take an in-person speech (lip) reading class, or check out online lipreading course. The Canadian Hard of Hearing Association – Newfoundland and Labrador (CHHA-NL) can support you with information and resources.