The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) estimates that 22 million employees are exposed to potentially damaging noise at work every year. The agency also estimates that approximately $242 million is spent by employers on worker’s compensation for hearing-related claims.
Employers are required to provide reasonable accommodations for individuals with hearing loss, according to the Americans with Disabilities Act. What are some ways employers can make it easier for hearing-impaired individuals to cope in the workplace?
Hear-it AISBL—a nonprofit organization that provides information on hearing loss—has compiled a list of strategies for hearing-impaired people to adapt in an office setting. In this article, we’ll share the highlights, edited and adapted from the Hear-it website.
- Limit background noise such as radiators, radios, ventilators, or speakerphones. These sounds may obscure a hearing aid user’s ability to understand conversation as well as being distracting and overly loud.
- Modify the ringer sound on a telephone to help a hearing-impaired person distinguish the sound from others that may sound similar. Hear-it also recommends adding a flashing indicator light or vibration option as a back-up if the ringer cannot be heard.
- According to Hear-it, being in a well-lit room allows the hearing-impaired person to view the person with whom they’re speaking. This can be crucial for lip reading or viewing facial expressions during a conversation.
- Keep as few sound sources as possible in the room. Having to choose between competing sources of sound at varying volumes can be both distracting and confusing for the hearing-impaired individual.
- Fitting a doorbell with a vibrator or flashing light alert can be helpful for notification of visitors.
- Certain environments—such as bare, hard surfaces—can produce an echo, increasing hearing difficulty. Installing acoustic waffles, cushions, carpeting, curtains, and partition walls all can improve acoustics.
- Sending emails or other written messages is another good way to communicate with a hearing-impaired employee.
If you suspect you have a hearing problem, the best course of action is to make an appointment with a hearing care professional. Concerned about the cost of treatment? With CareCredit, a healthcare credit card, you can finance the costs associated with hearing care so that you can focus on getting well!
This content is provided to the 4MyHearingBiz community by CareCredit and also adapted from Hear-it.org.