People with any degree of hearing loss deal with many known issues and face many anxieties when it comes to social interactions, and even more so professional situations.
Hearing loss is a growing circumstance in today’s workplace. About 60% of the American work-force suffers from some form of hearing loss, which means there is a substantial need for hearing loss education and services among working people.
When properly addressed, knowing about an employee’s hearing loss has a positive impact on the whole workplace.
Facts about hearing loss and the workplace.
- Adults with hearing loss are more likely to have lower education, lower-income, and be unemployment or underemployment compared with their typical-hearing peers.
- Untreated hearing loss can decrease one’s annual income by as much as $30,000. The yearly cost to society is estimated to be as high as $26 billion in unrealized federal taxes; and an estimated aggregate annual income loss of $176 billion due to underemployment.
- For those who did collect an income, individuals with hearing loss made about 25% less; their mean wage was $23,481, compared with $31,272 for typical-hearing peers.
- Hearing aids can reduce the risk of income loss by 90 to 100% for those with moderate to severe hearing loss.
- Untreated hearing loss shows a higher rate of unemployment.
Employees with Hearing loss
For those with hearing loss, it can often make day to day tasks more complicated, like understanding speech in loud areas or focusing in group settings. However, there are treatment options available that can improve performance inside and out of the workplace.
Receiving treatment for your hearing loss can improve quality of life, increase energy, better connect with colleagues, clients, friends, family, and can help boost confidence in loud environments.
Employees should talk to their employer to find out what options are available to them through the company’s health care plan and what they qualify to receive. Vocational rehabilitation can be another viable option for providing hearing loss treatment and techniques for navigating the workplace. You will find information about Voc-Rehab online.
Methods to optimize your hearing ability in the workplace:
- EDUCATE yourself about accommodations such as CART (Computer Assisted Realtime Translation) and assisted listening devices that include FM systems, streamers, amplified/captioned/flashing light phones, and PSAPs (personal sound amplification products)
- ADVOCATE for yourself by asking the appropriate person in your workplace for reasonable accommodations. Emphasize the benefits to your employer.
- REMEMBER, you bring experience, skills, and strengths to the workplace every day. Your hearing loss does not define you and will not prevent you from performing well.
- ACKNOWLEDGE your hearing loss, so you are better prepared for whatever communication challenges you face at the workplace.
By being aware and acknowledging your hearing loss in the workplace, employees, colleagues, and employers can all contribute to making an inclusive and supportive workplace environment. Employees experiencing hearing loss can feel comfortable and included, which increases overall communication, productivity, health, and happiness.
The first step to make hearing health a priority at your job. Is to make sure employees and colleagues have access to hearing healthcare services in the workplace. For more information on our free classes or to schedule an appointment with an Audiologist, contact us today!
The National Institute for Occupational Saftey and Health (NIOSH)