Adults with Hearing Loss at Higher Risk for Unemployment

Hearing loss can affect every aspect of your life. You have a hard time chatting with your coworkers, understanding what your children are saying, or hearing all the sounds around you. Adults with hearing loss are at a higher risk for unemployment, so if you are living with untreated hearing loss, you might be risking your job.

Communication at Work

Communication is everything, both at home and at work. We have conversations with our loved ones, express ourselves, and receive support. At work we need to hear clearly to work efficiently. Think about all the distracting noise at the office, and how your hearing loss makes it harder to tune out this background noise. You struggle to understand your boss, or hear what a client is saying over the phone. You may struggle to follow meetings and can’t quite understand what people are talking about. It’s embarrassing to stop a meeting to ask people to repeat themselves, so you let it slide. When you’re not hearing clearly, you risk mishearing instructions, or making costly mistakes.

Safety at Work

Did you know that hearing loss can also be a safety hazard? Hearing loss can be hazardous on the jobsite. Do you always hear the sound of machinery, or hear the warning honk of a vehicle coming up behind you? When you have hearing loss, you don’t always hear sounds in your environment. Even when you do hear a sound, hearing loss makes it harder to determine where a sound is coming from, risking your safety at work.

Adults with Hearing Loss at Higher Risk for Unemployment

Hearing loss has been linked to higher rates of unemployment among adults of all ages. Researchers at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore published a study in 2016 showing that adults who struggle with hearing loss are at a higher risk for unemployment than adults without hearing loss. In fact, adults with hearing loss are almost twice as likely to be without work! Adults with untreated hearing loss had a harder time getting hired, were more likely to be overlooked for promotions, and had a higher risk of being fired. Those with untreated hearing loss also earned lower salaries than employees who could hear clearly.

Ask for Accommodations at Work

If you have hearing loss, you can ask for accommodations at work. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) mandates that all Americans have equal access to employment. The ADA also specifies that employers cannot discriminate against employees with a disability, and requires that employers provide reasonable accommodations at work. If there are simple changes the employers can make to help you work effectively, they are required to provide the accommodations.

If you have hearing loss and you’re having a hard time doing your best work, you can ask your employer for reasonable accommodations. These requests could include:

  • Getting all instructions in writing. Your employer can send you an email or write a quick memo. When you get instructions in writing, you’ll all be on the same page, and you won’t risk making any mistakes due to mishearing instructions.
  • Sitting near the person speaking during any office or workplace meetings. This will help you hear exactly what’s being said and you can understand the meeting without needing to ask for clarification.
  • Moving your desk to a quieter workspace. If your current workspace is in a very noisy or busy part of the office, you can ask to move to a quieter workspace along a wall or in a corner. In a quieter workspace you’ll have an easier time hearing your colleagues, understanding phone conversations, and concentrating on your work.

Invest in Hearing Aids

Treating your hearing loss is the best thing you can do to avoid the risk of unemployment! Employees who treat their hearing loss with hearing aids can easily keep up with what’s being said, follow conversations, and do their best work. Today’s hearing aids are sleek, sophisticated devices that can help you hear in every situation. They will help you ignore distracting sounds that make it harder to hear conversations. Hearing aids programs also make speech clearer, so you can understand what’s being said without straining to hear. Some hearing aids can even connect to your smartphone, making it easier than ever to hear at work.