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May is Better Hearing and Speech Month. This special event was founded in 1927 by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), to raise awareness and encourage knowledge of hearing health and communication disorders. ASHA aims to facilitate hearing loss screening, support hearing loss prevention, and motivate people to seek treatment for hearing and speech-related problems.
This year’s theme is “Communication at work” Around 14 percent of working-age Americans have some hearing loss, so it’s an excellent time to draw attention to the problems facing this group and advise on how to improve communication at work. This is a problem that will only grow over time – as the retirement age grows past 65, so does the number of working-age individuals with hearing loss.
The importance of good hearing on work performance
In 2010, a study by the Better Hearing Institute found a $14,000 gap in earnings among adults with moderate and severe untreated hearing loss. The study also showed that people with chronic hearing loss stood to lose $30,000 in earnings annually.
Hearing loss can affect job performance in a variety of ways, including difficulty hearing at important meetings or on calls, trouble interacting with employees at work, and the inability to listen to essential safety announcements.
Untreated hearing loss might also increase listening fatigue at work, impair a person’s ability to concentrate and retain information, and increase stress, all of which can be detrimental to overall productivity.
What those with hearing loss can do to improve communication at work
If you have hearing loss, one of the biggest problems is that vital information is being missed. During a meeting or phone call, in discussion with a customer, or even in a video or news story about training, you might miss something.
Staying prepared and getting ready for challenging situations is the best way to cope with this problem. This includes:
- Ensuring meetings are run with written notes or an agenda;
- Finding ideal places to work, making phone calls, or attending small meetings;
- Checking the most critical points after meetings or calls, either orally or through emails;
- Having alternatives available, such as email or instant messaging available as a fail-safe.
Get into the habit
Building up and sticking to a good routine is also critical. Having a good schedule makes it easier for you to manage your job’s usual activities, and it also makes it easier to find ways to be more productive.
- Identify the key people you need to work in to do your job efficiently and meet with them one-on-one to strengthen your communication and teamwork.
- Work in the same place every day, a place you know to be quiet enough to work productively.
Let colleagues know about your hearing loss
It’s always better to disclose your hearing loss to those around you that you work with. By expressing your condition, you normalize hearing loss and inspire others to speak up about their hearing loss.
Go to management to discuss what accommodations can be made to help you do better on your job; By law, your employer is required to make ‘reasonable accommodations’ in this area.
Get a pair of hearing aids
Hearing aids are one of the most common ways to treat hearing loss. You could be putting your career and even your life on the line if you continue to live with untreated hearing loss.
Today’s hearing aids are discreet, advanced tools that, professionally fitted, could give you the ability to listen in any listening environment, follow conversations with ease, hear at work and perform tasks while enjoying an excellent quality of life.
Although it takes the help of technology, your co-workers, and your employers to succeed at work, the ultimate responsibility of dealing with hearing loss lies squarely with you. It starts with acknowledging the hearing loss to yourself, and those around you, then taking a hearing test. Contact us today to set up a hearing test.