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A few weeks ago, we introduced the Hearing Loss Association of America’s recently updated publication titled the “Employment Toolkit”. In our recent blog, we discussed tips for preparing and undergoing a successful interview with hearing loss. This time, we will discuss the toolkit’s recommendations once you’ve landed the gig. Whether starting a brand new job or looking for tips to make your work more successful, you’ve come to the right place.
An Offer is Made
Congratulations! You completed a successful interview and you’ve been offered the job. At this point, your prospective employer is legally allowed to ask you health questions or ask your to undergo a medical examination – as long as they ask all prospective employees in your role to undergo the same. It is not common for employers to require employees to take a hearing test – but if they do, you may wear hearing aids as long as wearing hearing aids on the job does not significantly increase the risk of harm to yourself or others. An employer may only rescind their offer of employment upon learning about your hearing loss if the essential functions of the job cannot be completed without reasonable accommodations (hearing aids, personal listening devices etc). For most jobs – this is not the case. Especially for employees who have treated their hearing loss with hearing aids.
Starting the Job
In this section of the toolkit, pertinent information is stressed to both an employee with hearing loss as well as those with a co-worker who is hearing impaired. The most pressing point of this section is the importance of communicating your hearing needs to your colleagues, clients, and managers. The best way to be successful at work is to provide those with whom you interact with the strategies and accommodations you need to maximize your understanding of auditory clues – in whatever way they may present themselves. Set yourself up for success by asking for the accommodations you know will increase your understanding, such as the appropriate lighting for lip reading, Assistive Listening Devices (ADLs), or ensuring CART is available for conference calls.
Common workplace accommodations that may help you succeed at work are: work area adjustments, modification of non-essential duties, written rather than verbal assignments, closed captioning of video conferences, and visual cues for emergency notification systems such as lights on fire alarms.
It is legally mandated that your employer provides these accommodations if requested. Many of these accommodations are completely free to employers, but if there is an associated cost, employers are not allowed to deny you access if they are considered “reasonable”. If your employer does express concern, let them know that there may be tax incentives available in your state.
See the IRS web page: Tax Benefits for Businesses Who Have Employees with Disabilities http://www.irs.gov/Businesses/Small-Businesses-&-Self-Employed/Tax-Benefits-for-BusinessesWho-Have-Employees-with-Disabilities
(Page Last Reviewed or Updated: November 21, 2013).
Dealing with Adverse Situations
Sadly, discrimination against people with disabilities in the workplace (including those with hearing loss) still exists. Discrimination can come in the form of unequal pay, denial of promotion opportunities, denial of opportunities to advance your career, harassment, or even termination. All of these forms of discrimination are illegal and protected by law.
If you feel you have been the victim of workplace discrimination, the HLAA suggests you get in contact with an experienced employee rights attorney right away. It is suggested you act quickly, as you usually have about 180 days between the time the discriminatory act occurred to the time you file a claim. If you do not know where to find an experienced lawyer, the Hearing Loss Association of America may be able to help connect you with one.
To read the entire “Employment Toolkit” as outlined by HLAA, visit: http://www.hearingloss.org/sites/default/files/docs/HLAA_Employment_Toolkit.pdf
How HearCare RI Can Help
For many people, one of the best ways to avoid issues at work due to hearing loss is to treat the loss with hearing aids. At HearCare Rhode Island, we care about your success at work. Reach out to us today to schedule your comprehensive exam with our friendly team. We look forward to meeting you and helping you on your journey to better hearing and a higher quality of life.