Navigating the Workplace with Hearing Loss
Some people find it difficult or uncomfortable to have a conversation about hearing loss at work. They may think that telling people about their hearing loss could lead to unfavourable treatment. Hearing loss is more common than you may think. With 1 in 6 Australians affected by hearing loss, chances are someone in your workplace is in a similar position to you.
It is best to have an open conversation about your hearing loss so your employer and colleagues are informed as to how to communicate effectively. By giving a few details and practical pieces of advice, it may make your experience at work easier and fairer. In most instances, your colleagues will appreciate your direct approach too.
Below are a few tips on getting the conversation about hearing loss started in the workplace.
- Let people know the specifics of your condition. For example “I have trouble following conversations in noisy places”
- Give practical advice regarding how people can most effectively communicate with you. For example “I can’t hear too well in loud places, can we continue this conversation in the meeting room?” or “It helps me to understand, if you are looking at me when you talk”.
- Explain how any specialised equipment such as hearing aids, cochlear implants, roger pens etc. work and how they help you to communicate
- Give tips on how to make your workplace more hearing loss friendly. This may include installing flashing fire alarms, phones with hearing aid bluetooth connectivity.
There are also a few communication strategies you might want to consider using to improve communication in the workplace;
- Repeat and rephrase – If you are having difficulty understanding a colleague, ask them to repeat themselves. If it still isn’t clear, ask them to rephrase.
- Captions – Real-time, speech-to-text captions are a communication tool that is growing in popularity. Suitable for everything from large scale conferences, to team meetings or teleconferences. Screened onto a personal devices such as an iPad or tablet, live captioning allows you to follow the discussion and participate in real-time.
Employment Assistance Fund
The Employment Assistance Fund (EAF) is a federal program that reimburses Employers/ Employees for approved items and/or services that address disability-related barriers in the workplace. Common items approved for people with hearing loss include captioning services and Roger pens. For more information on the program and how to apply, visit Job Access.
Discrimination against someone in the workplace because of a disability (such as hearing loss) is illegal. This discrimination could take the form of dismissal or harassment because of disability, sexual orientation, political views etc. If you would like to learn more about discrimination, or think that you may have been discriminated against visit the Fair Work Ombudsman so you can better understand your rights and obligations.
Contact us today to speak about your situation and how we can help you!