Working with Hearing Loss

Working with Hearing Loss

Bonnie L. Baehr, Au.D. Hearing Loss, Work & Economy

Bonnie L. Baehr, Au.D.

Beverly Hills Hearing Center was founded in 1983 by Bonnie Baehr. Prior to that, Dr. Baehr practiced at the House Ear Clinic in Los Angeles as a staff audiologist for seven years. She was involved with diagnostic testing, hearing aid evaluations, research and rehabilitation. Dr. Baehr did her clinical fellowship training at the Veterans Administration Outpatient Clinic in downtown Los Angeles. She is a member of the American Academy of Audiology, American Speech Language and Hearing Association, California Academy of Audiology and Academy of Doctors of Audiology.
Bonnie L. Baehr, Au.D.

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Working with hearing loss has some challenges, but The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) makes it illegal for your employer to discriminate against you if you do have hearing loss. The ADA is in place to make sure employers, landlords and public venue managers make it their business to accommodate those with hearing issues. If you suspect you might have hearing loss, the first step is to get it documented with a hearing evaluation at Beverly Hills Hearing Center. We can guide you to better hearing and also help with hearing protection and assistive listening devices to make your work day easier.

Your Hearing is a Private Issue

Your hearing loss should not be considered a deterrent to getting hired. A potential employer can’t ask if you have a hearing disability in a job interview. Your medical conditions are personal.  They can, however, ask about hearing loss if that might interfere with certain job duties. Here’s an example, if you are working at a facility and you need to go to the counter when you hear the door chime, then your hearing might be an issue. If you are applying at a company that uses phone banks and all the headsets are set to one volume, that might be a problem for you.

Certain obstacles to employment, like having to wear noise cancelling headphones but still being able to hear with them, can be overcome with special equipment that we can help you with. Headphones with volume controls can be purchased and custom ear protection can safeguard the hearing you have, but still let you be aware of sounds around you. Other answers to questions concerning employee and employer rights regarding employment questions can be found here – https://www.eeoc.gov/

You can Request Reasonable Changes

Employers are charged by the ADA to look at reasonable options to accommodating people who have hearing loss. For example, if you need to hear a chime to get to the front counter or maybe you need to raise a door at a warehouse when a buzzer sounds, it is possible to use a flashing light so you would be alerted and others would be alerted by a tone.

Perhaps you are a telemarketer or your work often requires you to be on the phone. A headset can be modified to have a higher volume control for you or even just have one ear adjusted while others can have theirs at a comfortable volume.

If you need to hear equipment like skid loaders approaching and you work in a noisy warehouse, there are wrist attachments that vibrate and alert you when machinery might be approaching. In addition, the forklifts and other machinery can be equipped with flashing lights that would make you aware of their approach.

If you work in an office and you have difficulty on the phone, there is always e-mail or texting to use as a backup as well as captioned telephones. There are assistive listening devices that will help you hear better at conferences or large group gatherings.

Temporary Options

If conferences and seminars are part of your employment, there are small lapel microphones that will help with boosting the sound, or maybe simply sitting closer will do the trick.  Many of the new hearing aids don’t require a directional microphone anymore and they will hone in on a speaker and filter the background noise.

The final decision if an accommodation is “reasonable” or not, is made by those who enforce the ADA. If you feel your employer is not being reasonable about your hearing issues you can learn about filing a complaint here – https://www.ada.gov/filing_complaint.htm.

Public Venues

Public venues such as museums, historical sites and lecture halls have accommodations for the hearing impaired. It may be headsets to enable you to hear a tour guide easier or it might be a captioning service. It is always best to call ahead or check the venue’s website to see what specific accommodations might be available. They might be loop enabled so you can use your hearing aid. Public venues have signs that show if they are loop enabled. Movie theatres with seating over 50 may have close captioning or rear window captioning so you can enjoy a movie with friends and not miss anything if you are hearing impaired.

Beverly Hills Hearing Center

Give us a call at Beverly Hills Hearing Center if you are having hearing problems or you need help with specialized hearing devices for your employment or even your hobbies.