Meetings, conversations with co-workers, presentations – the workday involve a lot of communication and demand much energy to keep operations running at work.
It can be extremely challenging for a hearing impaired professional to keep up with organisational processes and tasks and perform their duties.
Here is some practical advice and tips on how to help hearing impaired individuals function better at work.
Disclosing your hearing impairment to colleagues
No matter how tempting it is to keep your disability a secret or how embarrassing it is speak about it, it is important that your colleagues know about your hearing impairment in order to make both communication and work easier in the workplace.
Here’s what you can do to let people know the specifics.
- Do not go ahead with “I am deaf” statement. Instead, explain the nature of your particular condition while making statements like ‘I have trouble hearing people on the telephone or hearing voices in noisy or crowded backgrounds’.
- Advise your colleagues on how best to communicate with you. For instance, you can tell them to be a bit loud, speak more slowly, use appropriate visual clues wherever possible and to be a reasonable distance from you so as to make sure that their face is well lit.
- Ask them to rephrase rather than repeat things you have difficulty with, and write down critical information such as dates, times, addresses, telephone numbers, peoples’ names, and amounts of money.
- In case you have one side more affected than the other, tell co-workers which is your good side.
- If you use any assistive listening device, let people know whether it is hearing aids or a speech process you wear. Also, explain how your specialised device work.
Tips for people in the workplace with normal hearing
Your organisation may include employees and co-workers who have never worked with a hearing impaired colleague before. Not only is it necessary that all of your colleges are aware of your medical condition but it is required that they know how to deal with the hearing impaired in the workplace and help improve their efficiency.
Some key suggestions include:
- Use your body language and facial expressions effectively. Avoid being straight-faced while talking or listening.
- Keep your speech clear and do not exaggerate your lip and mouth movements as it may hinder speech-reading for the affected person.
- Incorporate open-ended questions in your conversions besides ‘yes’ or ‘no’ questions to determine if the hearing impaired understood you properly.
- Talk at a normal pace or slower than usual if required.
- Speak with the affected person to know how best to adjust your speed and volume of your speech.
- Pause from time to time while you communicate with a hearing-impaired person to allow them to catch up and actively understand.
It’s natural for some people with affected hearing to keep their disability a secret. However, keeping your disability untreated an undisclosed would only worsen the situation and raise more problems in the future.
Follow the general suggestions and guidelines mentioned above to ensure the hearing impaired can improve their productivity and efficiency at work.