Working with Hearing Loss 

In Hearing Loss by UpState Hearing Instruments

At UpState Hearing Instruments, we know firsthand the stress that untreated hearing loss can cause in the work place. Missed opportunities, misunderstandings, getting a meeting time wrong, or not hearing clients over phone are just a few things we hear about from so many of our first-time patients.  Did you know adults with hearing loss are more likely to be unemployed and, on average, earn significantly lower wages by up to 25%? (Annals of Otology, Rhinology & Laryngology (2012;121[12]:771).

Here are a few tips that can make life easier in the work place…

Treat your hearing loss!

Seems like a no brainer, right?  You would be amazed how long people put off better hearing, struggling day after day and coming home fatigued from just trying to hear better at work.  With a hearing loss, your brain is already working much harder than others to catch and understand what’s being said.  If you’re not hearing well, prioritize visiting a hearing aid specialist. The longer you wait, the harder it can be to treat your hearing loss, as it is truly a use or lose it situation. At UpState Hearing Instruments, we do not charge for our comprehensive hearing evaluations. We also provide a free test drive of hearing devices; something we pioneered in the hearing instrument industry over 20 years ago.

Be Honest About Your Hearing Loss

Don’t pretend you’ve heard someone. Let people know you are having a tough time hearing and be honest about your hearing loss.  A patient of ours once said, “I’d rather people know I can’t hear well than have them think I’m stupid”; something we all feel when we get the conversation wrong.  Pretending you can hear will lead to complications at work.  So politely ask your coworkers to repeat themselves, perhaps rephrase what they said, and try to repeat what you think you heard back to them for clarity.

Prepare in Advance

If at all possible, prepare for your meeting by asking for a copy of the agenda, ask to sit closer to the speaker, and if provided, ask for meeting minutes afterwards.  Make sure you can see any visual aids or power points provided.  If you are presenting, see if you can arrange a wireless mic for people asking questions, especially in larger venues.

Ask for Accommodations

Assume your coworkers want you to do your best work, so ask for accommodations whenever possible.  Be upfront about your hearing loss, and keep a positive attitude. For instance, tell your coworkers that you really want to hear what they’re saying, and that you’ll have an easier time understanding if you can see their face (and mouth) when they speak. If possible, move conversations to a quieter room, get visual aids, and again, sit closer to the speaker.  Don’t be shy about asking for what you need.

Reevaluate Your Workspace

As you know, sounds around you may be very distracting. It can be difficult to filter out background noise or hear on the phone in a noisy environment. If your desk is in a busy part of the office, near the printer or bathrooms, or beside any high traffic areas, ask to move to a quieter workspace so you can focus on your work and continue to do a great job.

Reevaluate Your Workload

Do you have a task that have become increasingly difficult with your hearing loss? Does that task gobble up all your time? Reevaluate your workload with your employer, and let them know you want to continue doing your best. Ask to be removed from projects that you may be struggling to perform or find other more suitable tasks requiring less listening to be added to your workload.

Use Technology

As we pointed out in the beginning of this blog, the best thing you can do for your hearing loss is to invest in a hearing device.  Better hearing will bring you dividends well beyond your initial investment!  Today’s hearing instruments work amazingly well and are not the big clunky things your Uncle Bob used to wear.  Most current models of hearing instruments can connect to Bluetooth for better communications at work or on the go.  You can also stream phone calls,  or your favorite music or pod casts.

As for software, there are also voice-to-text programs available to install that would let you read, in real time, everything that’s being said during a meeting. These Computer Assisted Real Time Transcription programs, installed on either your laptop or your phone, can help you catch every word in group meetings or even during one-on-one conversations.

Once you have a hearing instrument, TCoils with a conference room loop system are another possibility for you and your employer to explore.

It’s Your Right

The Americans with Disabilities Act stipulates that your employer must provide any reasonable accommodation you need to help do your best work. It’s your right to have what you need to do your job well.  That said, don’t expect your employer to run out and buy your hearing instruments for you!  Some things we have to do on our own to grow in our jobs.

For more information, or to schedule an appointment, please visit our website at www.upstatehearing.com or give us a call at 530-243-7307 in Redding, Weaverville, Susanville and Red Bluff or call 530-893-4327 in Chico.