If you live with hearing loss, you know that the condition affects every part of your life: at home, at school, at work, and when you’re out with friends. Hearing loss can have a profound impact on your personal life, including your relationships with your spouse, family, and friends. It can also directly affect how you spend your recreational time, whether you are alone or with others.
However, hearing loss does not only affect your personal life; it can also have an immense impact on your professional life. This may be especially true if your job involves frequent in-person or phone communication with customers or coworkers. Everything from the job interview to staff meetings, and from one-on-one meetings with your manager to lunch with your coworkers can be affected by hearing loss.
So, with this in mind, when is the appropriate time to disclose your hearing loss to a current or potential employer? In January 2020, the Hearing Health Foundation (HHF) asked this very question to their email subscribers. The poll was anonymous and included only one question: When is the best time to tell an employer about your hearing loss?
From the first 100 responses to this question, a trend became clear. First, it is noteworthy that 95 of the first 100 respondents believed you should tell an employer about hearing loss. Only 5 respondents said that you should never address hearing loss with your employer.
However, the respondents had varying opinions about when exactly the best time is to broach the subject. Among the 95 respondents who said you should tell your employer about hearing loss, the multiple-choice answers broke down as follows:
The respondents who selected “other” were given an opportunity to write in an answer. From their responses, it is clear that they believe when or whether you should disclose hearing loss to an employer is based on each situation or circumstance. Overall, they indicate that hearing loss should be discussed with your employer if it interferes with one’s job duties or is severe enough to require accommodations.
For example, one respondent who answered “other” wrote, “When you know it’s presenting a problem and you cannot hear your co-workers.” Another indicated that they would only disclose their hearing loss if their devices were insufficient for workplace communication or their job responsibilities. They wrote, “With my cochlear implants, I did so well that I didn’t need to tell (anyone at work).”
With 95 percent of respondents indicating that they would be open to discussing hearing loss with an employer, it is apparent that transparency with an employer is important. This indicates a promising de-stigmatization of hearing loss in our society. As more people become more comfortable with disclosing their hearing loss with employers (and coworkers, friends, and family members), we can all move towards a more accepting and open culture of caring.
To learn more about discussing hearing loss with an employer and how you can ensure that you perform to the best of your ability in the workplace, we invite you to contact our hearing professional today. We look forward to assisting you.