Creating An Accommodating Environment For The Hearing Impaired In The Workplace

Hearing loss has a big effect on an employee's productivity. According to some estimates, every person with moderate to severe hearing loss costs the national economy approximately $300,000. As an employer, you have the means of mitigating this loss. The best way to do this is to make the environment accommodative to employees with hearing disabilities. There are several ways of achieving this, and below are four examples.

Accommodate the Hearing Impaired 

The first thing to note is that your employees who are struggling with hearing loss may require different office or workplace setups from those used by their colleagues with good hearing. For example, they may be more sensitive to background noises such as fans or machine noises.

Therefore, moving things around to accommodate their unique needs is one way of making them comfortable. Place the desks and chairs away from those distractions to help improve their productivity.

Help Your Employees Learn How to Communicate

Do not assume that your employees who have good hearing will automatically know how to talk with those who have hearing impairment. Teaching them relevant communication skills will help, and it doesn't have to be complicated or expensive. You can hold workshops, provide learning materials (videos or booklets), or hold webinars. Some of the things they should learn include:

  • Looking directly at the person when speaking with him or her – helps with lip reading
  • Using emails or instant messages in noisy offices
  • Triggering flashing alarms in emergencies

Reduce Background Noises

The methods for reducing background noises depend on the types of noises in your workplace. Here are three useful methods for reducing background noises in an office:

  • Installing noiseless fans
  • Servicing your HVAC so that they run quietly
  • Installing sound insulating panels
  • Using office plants to absorb sounds
  • Using cubicles instead of open offices

Install Inductive Loops

Hearing aids may be useful, but their effectiveness goes down in noisy environments or with multiple speakers. Therefore, it's useful to install inductive loops to help your hearing-impaired employees to improve their hearing. Inductive loops are electrical devices that transmit sounds directly into hearing aids, thereby minimizing the interference of background noises. They are particularly useful during seminars or workshops that involve large groups of people.

In the long run, such an environment benefits both the employer and employee. If you have hearing-impaired employees who have not sought testing, encourage them to do so. Even if their disabilities cannot be treated, they may benefit by getting hearing aids to improve their hearing.

For professional hearing services, contact a company such as County Hearing And Balance.