As we go through life, we experience changes in our bodies. Unfortunately, some changes can affect our communication ability, especially in the workplace. One of the most common changes is hearing loss. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), around 466 million people worldwide have hearing loss, and this number is expected to increase.
Hearing loss can be challenging, and many people may not know how to navigate their work environment with this condition. It is essential to have communication strategies in place to ensure that everyone can communicate effectively. In this blog post, we will discuss communication strategies for people with hearing loss and your rights as an employee.
Let People Know
When you have hearing loss, you must let your colleagues know. You can tell them directly or through your supervisor or HR department. This will allow your colleagues to be aware of your condition and make adjustments to ensure effective communication.
When communicating with someone, being in the correct position is essential. It would help if you tried to face the person you are communicating with, and they should be in good light. If you have difficulty hearing, you can ask the person to move closer or speak louder.
Reduce Background Noise
Background noise can be distracting and make it difficult to hear. You can ask your colleagues to reduce noise by turning down music, closing doors or windows, or moving to a quieter area.
Visual aids can be helpful in communication, especially if you are having difficulty hearing. You can use written notes or diagrams to support your conversation. You can also ask your colleagues to use visual aids in presentations or meetings.
Assistive Listening Devices
Assistive listening devices, such as hearing aids or personal amplifiers, can be helpful in the workplace. They can help you hear more clearly and reduce background noise. If you have a hearing aid, wear it consistently to ensure the best results.
Working from home with hearing loss
Recently, there has been a shift towards remote working, which has both benefits and drawbacks for those with hearing loss. While working from home may reduce background noise levels and provide a quieter environment, it can also present challenges. In this section, we will discuss communication strategies for those with hearing loss working from home.
Use Video Conferencing
Video conferencing platforms, such as Zoom or Microsoft Teams, have become an integral part of remote working. Video conferencing provides visual cues that can be helpful for those with hearing loss. You can ask your colleagues to turn on their videos and enable captioning to make communication more accessible.
Use Chat Functions
Chat functions can be helpful in a remote working environment. You can use the chat function to communicate with your colleagues if you have difficulty hearing. You can also use the chat function to ask for clarification or provide additional information.
Headsets can reduce background noise and make communication clearer. To improve audio quality, you can use noise-cancelling headphones or headsets with built-in microphones.
Your Rights at Work
As someone with hearing loss, you have specific rights in the workplace. In the UK, the Equality Act 2010 protects employees from discrimination due to a disability. The Act requires employers to make reasonable adjustments to ensure that employees with disabilities are not at a disadvantage. Reasonable adjustments include providing assistive listening devices or reducing background noise levels.
In addition, you have the right to request a workplace assessment to identify any areas that may need adjustments. You can also request to work in a quiet room or to have written communication instead of verbal communication.
Effective communication is crucial in the workplace, and if you have hearing loss, it is essential to have strategies to ensure everyone can communicate effectively. By letting your colleagues know, positioning yourself correctly, reducing background noise, and using visual aids and assistive listening devices, you can make communication more accessible. As someone with hearing loss, you also have rights in the workplace, and your employer should make reasonable adjustments to ensure that you are not disadvantaged.
At our hearing practice, we understand the challenges of hearing loss. We can help you find the best workplace communication strategies and assistive listening devices. Our team of hearing professionals can provide a hearing assessment and help you choose the best hearing aid for your needs. Contact us today to book an appointment.