Every year, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), designates the entire month of May to advocate for the importance of communication with Better Hearing and Speech Month.
The 2020 theme is ‘Communication at Work.’ This month, ASHA’s main objectives are to normalize hearing loss and communication difficulties at work. We are more inclined to seek support and practical strategies from hearing and speech practitioners when there is less stigma. The aim is to help those with hearing loss be the best selves in their professions.
In this article, we’ll look at how better communication strategies could benefit those with hearing loss.
The consequences of hearing loss extend in many ways beyond merely having trouble hearing. Indeed, it affects all aspects of an individual’s life. Instead of pulling inward and limiting our activities, people with hearing loss deserve to live as rich and full as anyone else.
Loss of hearing can affect work performance.
There are many ways in which hearing loss can affect work performance, but these are the main two challenges.
Communication challenges: In almost every form of work, interacting with others is an essential daily activity. When hearing loss obstructs interpersonal interactions, the resulting communication difficulties can affect the individual’s physical well-being, social skills, and work success.
Reduced Confidence: A loss of hearing is associated with the avoidance of social activities, impaired memory, and less spatial alertness. These conditions can affect a person’s ability to perform to his or her full potential, which can take a toll on their workplace morale.
Hearing loss makes you earn less
People with hearing loss are more likely to be unemployed, but those who are working are more likely to gain considerably less income than their hearing peers.
Hearing loss frequency tends to be related to income deprivation – the more severe the hearing loss, the higher the income gap. The level of income from the most severe hearing loss is about $14,000 less than those with the mildest type of hearing impairment.
That’s why it is crucial to mitigate these disadvantages, and the best way to do it is to break down the barriers of communication at work for those with compromised hearing.
How to improve communication with hearing loss in the workplace
Improving communication at work is a process involving yourself, your colleagues, and your employer.
What should you do?
If you have hearing loss, take these three steps:
Use a hearing aid: A National Council on the Aging report has found that people who address their hearing loss through the use of hearing aids have better emotional health and less social distress than those who decide to forgo the use of technology.
Reveal your hearing loss: The reasons for telling people about your hearing problems at work are clear: if they don’t know there’s a problem, they can’t do their part to make communication more comfortable, which means you miss out on more than you need to.
Tell your colleagues what you need from them: Do you hear better from the right? Do you rely heavily on lipreading and hate it when people cover their mouths when they are talking? Let the people in your team know about your needs. Once they know exactly what they can do to support you best, it’s easier for them to help you.
What employers should do
Employers have a legal responsibility to make ‘reasonable accommodations’ for people who have hearing loss in order not to put them at a ‘substantial disadvantage’ in the workplace.
Here are some suggested changes they could make:
- Changing the layout of a meeting room and using good lighting to help everyone see each other.
- Adjusting a job to suit your needs.
- Moving you to an area with better acoustics.
- Offering resources for collaboration in meetings.
- Installation of devices such as amplified telephones.
Hearing loss does not have to hold you back.
People with hearing loss sometimes fail to achieve their career potential, and many individuals wait for years before doing something about their hearing loss.
Individuals with hearing loss can increase their earning capacity, strengthen their interpersonal relationships, and live their lives to the fullest by adhering to the communication tips described above, and finding support to improve their hearing.
Our team of highly trained hearing specialists provides a variety of customized programs to help you succeed. Call us today to set up a hearing test.