Disclosure During Interviews
Your hearing issues should not prevent you from being hired. Perspective employers can’t ask if you have a hearing disability in a job interview because medical conditions are private. They can ask about hearing issues if there are certain duties that need to be performed as part of your employment and hearing might be an issue – for example, if there is a tone or chime you need to listen for when someone enters the business.
If you are applying for work at a telemarketing company and everyone’s headsets are set at one volume, you may not be able to do that job. Perhaps you are applying for a warehouse job and because of the noise all of the employees wear noise cancelling headphones. But you have to also be able to hear enough through the headphones to know if there is a skid loader or forklift headed your way. That would be a work issue.
However, at Glendora Hearing Aids & Audiology, we can help you out with assistive listening devices and custom ear molds that might help you overcome some of these obstacles. Answers to questions concerning employee and employer rights regarding employment questions can be found here – https://www.eeoc.gov/
Accommodations Can Be Requested
Let’s suppose you have a job and you also are experiencing hearing issues. There are reasonable ways your employer can accommodate you.
If you work at a service station and you need to raise the garage door when a tone sounds, and you don’t always hear it, there are light attachments so a light will flash to alert you. A tone will still alert other employers, but the light will also flash. That’s a reasonable request and a reasonable way to accommodate you.
As a telemarketer with hearing issues, you can use a headset with enhanced volume controls for one ear or both ears. A headset tailored for you, as long as it can interface with the rest of the working headsets, is a reasonable.
If you work in a warehouse and use safety headphones but still must hear if equipment is coming, there are wristlets you can wear that vibrate when something like a forklift or skid loader comes close to you. They also can equip the machinery with a flashing light. If you work in an office and there are issues talking on the phone, captioned telephones are an option as well as computer software that can be used as part of an assistive listening system.
Remember, “reasonable” is subjective – the final arbitrator of “reasonable” is the ADA.
Let’s say you must attend a conference as part of your work duties and you are afraid you won’t be able to hear the speaker. There are small lapel microphones that will help with boosting the sound, or something as simple as making sure you get seated closer to the speaker can be done to accommodate you. Many of the new hearing aids don’t require a directional microphone anymore and they will hone in on a speaker. If you feel your employer is not being reasonable about your hearing issues you can learn about filing a complaint here – https://www.ada.gov/filing_complaint.htm
Many public venues such as museums and lecture halls have accommodations for the hearing impaired. It may be headsets, so you can better understand during a tour or it might be a captioning service. It is always best to call ahead to see what accommodations might be available. They might be loop enabled so you can use your hearing aid. Many public venues have signs indicating they are loop enabled.
Movie theatres with seating over 50 may have close captioning or rear window captioning so you can enjoy a movie.
Children and the ADA
If you have a child with hearing loss, he or she has rights under the ADA. School systems must provide reasonable accommodations, so they receive an equal education. They are also responsible if your child goes off school grounds to make sure they have an equal experience on a field trip.
Give us a call at Glendora Hearing Aids & Audiology if you are experiencing hearing problems in general, or need help with specialized hearing devices for your employment or hobbies.