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