“What can I ex­pect with a hear­ing loss at work?”

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - VOICES -

An­swer: Peo­ple with pro­found hear­ing loss of­ten have dif­fi­culty get­ting and keep­ing jobs. Those that have em­ploy­ment need com­mu­ni­ca­tions ac­com­mo­da­tions to func­tion most ef­fec­tively. Whether it’s out of ig­no­rance, un­cer­tainty, fear or mal­ice, em­ploy­ers are of­ten un­will­ing to hire peo­ple with hear­ing loss. In ad­di­tion, many in­di­vid­u­als with hear­ing loss are stuck in jobs that are un­ful­fill­ing, of­fer no ad­vance­ment pos­si­bil­i­ties, or lack chal­lenge and in­ter­est. Some­times, an in­di­vid­ual’s lack of con­fi­dence and men­tal state may be the cul­prit—they are stuck be­cause they be­lieve that it is ex­tremely un­likely they will get hired for an­other job, re­gard­less of their qual­i­fi­ca­tions and ex­pe­ri­ence. On the flip side, lack of ac­com­mo­da­tions in an em­ploy­ment sit­u­a­tion can turn a po­ten­tially won­der­ful job into a night­mare. Hear­ing loss and the Amer­i­can Dis­abil­i­ties Act (ADA) Ac­cord­ing to the ADA, a per­son has a dis­abil­ity if he/she has a phys­i­cal or men­tal im­pair­ment that sub­stan­tially lim­its one or more ma­jor life ac­tiv­i­ties, a record of such an im­pair­ment, or is re­garded as hav­ing an im­pair­ment (EEOC Reg­u­la­tions 2011). That be­ing said, some peo­ple with hear­ing loss will have a dis­abil­ity un­der the ADA and some will not. The Dis­abled Ac­cess Credit pro­vides tax re­lief of up to $5,000 a year to a small busi­ness for ac­com­mo­da­tions pro­vided. Here’s what the law states:

Is it a rea­son­able ac­com­mo­da­tion for an em­ployer to make sure that an em­ployee wears a hear­ing aid or uses an­other mit­i­gat­ing mea­sure?

No. The ADA does not re­quire em­ploy­ers to mon­i­tor an em­ployee to en­sure that he uses an as­sis­tive hear­ing de­vice. Nor may an em­ployer deny an in­di­vid­ual with a hear­ing dis­abil­ity a rea­son­able ac­com­mo­da­tion be­cause the em­ployer be­lieves that the in­di­vid­ual has failed to take some mea­sure that would im­prove his hear­ing (EEOC, 2006).

Is an em­ployer re­quired to pur­chase a pre­scribed hear­ing de­vice (e.g., hear­ing aid or cochlear im­plant) as a rea­son­able ac­com­mo­da­tion?

Rea­son­able ac­com­mo­da­tion ap­plies to mod­i­fi­ca­tions that specif­i­cally as­sist an in­di­vid­ual in per­form­ing the du­ties of a par­tic­u­lar job. Equip­ment or de­vices that as­sist a per­son in daily ac­tiv­i­ties on and off the job are con­sid­ered per­sonal items that an em­ployer is not re­quired to pro­vide. How­ever, in some cases, equip­ment that other­wise would be con­sid­ered “per­sonal” may be re­quired as an ac­com­mo­da­tion if it is specif­i­cally de­signed or re­quired to meet job-re­lated rather than per­sonal needs.

Con­tact Bet­ter Hear­ing and Bal­ance at 479-657-6464 for ad­di­tional in­for­ma­tion.

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