How to Tell Your Boss and Co-Workers About Your Hearing Loss

If you suffer from hearing loss, you may be at risk of losing your job as it could cause your boss to think you’re acting absent-minded or lazy if you miss assignments.

Therefore, it’s important to tell your employer and co-workers if you struggle with hearing loss so that they can help you succeed in the workplace.

In addition to feeling uncomfortable, many people avoid discussing it with their employer in fear that they will be fired. Thankfully, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits firing employees based on hearing loss unless it’s a safety hazard (though this is usually only in extreme cases).

Therefore, you shouldn’t be worried about speaking up. If you are, these tips should help you feel more comfortable talking about hearing loss.

Provide Data For Your Hearing Loss

If you’ve missed any important information due to hearing loss, it’s important to provide data about your condition, as this will ensure your employer doesn’t presume you’re making excuses.

For example, bring the results of a recent hearing test or other evidence from your audiologist. In fact, you may even choose to give them the contact information of your audiologist directly if they wish to know more about your hearing loss.

If you’ve been diagnosed with a certain type of hearing loss, have a brief explanation (and simple) of what it is and give an example of how it affects you in the company.

Discuss The Treatment You’re Seeking

The next step is to describe the treatment that you’re currently seeking. This is key to showing your employer that you are working on a solution, and they will be more likely to embrace the situation as you’re clearly trying to solve the problem.

For example, you may show them hearing aids you’re looking to purchase or even a surgery you might undergo.

State How They Can Help

In many cases, employers will be willing to help as it generally costs them more money to find another employee than it does to make a few simple arrangements. Even if they aren’t receptive, it’s still your right to show them what they can do to better assist you.

Therefore, give them a few ideas on how they can help, including:

  • Using written memos
  • Providing virtual meeting recordings
  • Using closed captions for meetings
  • Speaking slowly and directly at you

It’s also important to discuss this with key co-workers as they will likely be the ones you interact with more on a daily basis. Nonetheless, be sure to tell your boss before your co-workers as he/she may help develop a plan.

Provide Feedback

Hearing loss in the workplace is an ongoing discussion, so don’t hesitate to speak up if the current arrangements still don’t satisfy your needs. It’s also a learning curve for co-workers to remember to face you and speak clearly and slowly when communicating.

Therefore, give it a few weeks and then check in with your boss and colleagues regarding additional adjustments that could be made and also to point out what they are doing well.

Take Action Now

While it may be nerve-wracking to tell your boss, remember that they want you to succeed and help their company. In addition, this is nothing new as millions of Americans suffer from hearing loss. Just ask to speak with them for a moment and remember the tips discussed above.

About the Author:

Pauline Dinnauer is the VP of Audiological Care at Connect Hearing, which provides industry-leading hearing loss, hearing testing, and hearing aid consultation across the US.