Should You Disclose Your Hearing Loss in the Workplace?

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Disclose Hearing Loss to a Current or Potential Employer

If you have been diagnosed with hearing loss, the chances are you have had to make some adjustments in your life. You may have started using a device to manage your hearing loss, such as hearing aids or perhaps joined a local group or organization dedicated to supporting those living with hearing loss. You may even have found some new activities to enjoy without the background noise that can interfere with hearing.

What many people also find is that working and hearing loss can be a whole new experience and set of challenges than without hearing loss. Here’s what you need to know about your hearing loss in the workplace.

The hearing loss landscape

Hearing loss is becoming more and more common, and while this may not be a comfort for those diagnosed with hearing loss, it does mean that the conversation and understanding of the condition are growing.

According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC):

  • 30 million Americans (12.7% of the population) had hearing loss in both ears
  • 48 million Americans (20.3% of the population) had hearing loss in one ear
  • Approximately 17% of American adults (36 million people) report some degree of hearing loss

These statistics mean that millions of Americans are living and working with hearing loss. While laws protect those with hearing loss from discrimination in the workplace, that doesn’t mean there aren’t some challenges to be overcome. Including when to disclose your hearing loss to a current employer or potential employer.

The big question

Those with hearing loss often face a big decision when it comes to work: if, when, and how to share that they have hearing loss. A recent poll by the Hearing Health Foundation (HHF) highlighted that it is a decision that is as personal and unique as each individual’s hearing loss itself. Looking at the first 100 responses to the question, “When is the best time to tell an employer about your hearing loss?” HHF found:

  • 11 percent said in the job application
  • 33 percent said during the job interview
  • 14 percent said upon receipt of a job offer
  • 3 percent said on the first day of the job
  • 12 percent said within the first few months of the job
  • 5 percent said never
  • 22 percent said other, specifying that it depended and generally depended upon whether or not it interfered with job duties or required accommodations.

Ultimately, sharing a diagnosis of hearing loss and, if so, when to share it, is a very personal choice.

Navigating the workplace

If you do have hearing loss, know that it does not define you as an employee. Don’t be afraid to speak up and ask for accommodations to help you more effectively do your job, including:

  • Different or more comprehensive communication in the workplace
  • Assistive listening devices
  • Hearing aid compatible phones
  • Training and meeting accommodations

If you believe you have hearing loss and it is affecting your job, it may be time to schedule a hearing evaluation and consider hearing aids. Contact our office to learn more.

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