Barbara Kelley: Hi, I'm Barbara Kelley with the Hearing Loss Association of America. Today we'll talk about workplace solutions for people with hearing loss. The workplace can be difficult to navigate when you're experiencing hearing loss, but there are a lot of positive things you and your employer can do to improve office communications.
Technology used with or without a hearing aid or cochlear implant can help. If you have a hearing loss, you invest a great deal of effort and money to manage your hearing loss and do your job well. In an ideal world your employer should appreciate that and meet you half way.
However you will most likely have to advocate for yourself, but you have a lot to back you up. For businesses with more than 15 employees, the Americans with Disabilities Act known as the ADA requires employers to make reasonable accommodations for employees with disabilities who can otherwise perform the duties of the job on par with their non-disabled peers.
For a person with hearing loss this could simply mean providing a hearing aid compatible office phone, a captioned telephone or the option to use a free telephone captioning service with the Mac, PC and mobile users. Employers can also, make Skye or other internet based text or video chats available. Personal assistive listening devices can help in small meetings or in one-on-one conversations.
Ask for communication access real-time translation also knows as CART, this will help facilitate meetings in corporate events, specially trained CART writers use a computer with specialized real-time software to provide real-time captions of what the speakers are saying.
The CART reporter can even be at a remote location. Work with management to make sure that they know reasonable accommodation involves understanding employee's needs and actively promoting good communication among workers. But in practice and in written policy you are the expert in your own hearing loss. The best communication practices should be a collaboration between you and your employer. Share what works and what doesn't work with your supervisor and offer to work with the company to find solutions that meet everyone's needs fairly.
Working cooperatively with your employer not only accommodates your hearing loss and allows you to do the job well, but it also creates a culture of acceptance and flexibility for the next worker who needs an accommodation.