In the month of May, the American Language and Hearing Association (ASHA) fosters awareness about the loss of hearing and other communication disorders with Better Hearing and Speech Month. This year’s theme, “Communication at Work,” focuses on the essential connection between hearing health and work.
Hearing loss impedes our ability to recognize speech, and if left untreated, may cause a breakdown in our most important relationships, whether with a partner or a colleague.
If you’ve been struggling to understand the speech of a loved one, or you’ve found issues with your hearing and haven’t sought help, this is the month you should do something about it. Our team at Redding Audiology Associates is here to help you on your journey to better hearing.
How hearing loss can lead to lowered earning
The figures on the harmful effects of hearing loss are immense. Untreated hearing loss causes annual income losses of up to $30,000 and generates a loss of $26 billion in unpaid federal taxes, which could help the US economy.
World Health Organization studies have found that loss of productivity worldwide is estimated to be at $750 -790 billion annually due to unemployment among people with hearing loss. In the US, $176 billion annually is lost due to underemployment.
According to a Better Hearing Institute report, hearing loss has an annual negative effect on household income of up to $12,000 per annum. However, using hearing aids mitigates the damage by up to 50%.
How to work with a hearing loss
The implications of hearing loss for your long-term career are potentially dangerous, and it is vital that you act. Here are some things you can do to improve your workplace performance with hearing loss.
1. Disclose your hearing loss
It’s a difficult thing to do, but if you want to support those around you, you should let them know of your hearing loss. People are incredibly considerate when they know you have needs that have to be met.
2. Advocate for your needs
No one in the workplace is better at judging your needs than you. So ask for anything you need to do your job the best you can. Your employer has a legal responsibility to make ‘reasonable changes’ that will help you work better, so talk to your boss to see if they can meet your needs.
3. Choose your seat wisely
Your seat choice plays a big part in deciding how well you’ll be able to understand your coworkers.
This is particularly true if you’re working in an open-plan office. Such places make understanding conversations between other people tough and typically involve reverberating noises from all directions, so it is a good idea to reduce the background noise around you.
- Ask your boss for a seat with your back to the wall, if possible. This prevents noise coming from behind you and will make it easier for you to understand others.
- Consider sitting in the middle of the table during meetings so that you can see everybody’s lips. This will give you the best chance to lip-read.
- If you’re watching someone give a presentation, sit next to the speaker to hear them better.
4. Encourage the use of email for important communications
Almost nobody in an office role is crying out for more emails, but summarizing important meetings in text-form can help you catch any important information you have missed.
5. Use a hearing aid at work
Communication is so critical in the workplace, and hearing aids help workers engage better when surrounded by noise. They will help you hear better when you’re on the phone. Modern hearing aids are smaller and more technologically advanced than you realize.
According to the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disabilities, about 28.8 million people in the United States could benefit from hearing aids but are currently not wearing them. Among those 28.8 million, less than 16 percent between the ages of 20 and 69 are using hearing aids. To put it another way, only 16% of those with hearing loss and are of working age are currently using hearing aids.