Succeeding with Hearing Loss at Work
Hearing loss can interfere with life in lots of different ways, especially in professional life. So whether you’ve just recently received a hearing implant, or are starting a new job, these tips can help you to succeed in your workplace:
Talk About Your Hearing
Many people do not know about hearing implants. Some people might think that you’ll be up and hearing the date after your implantation. Others might not understand that if you take off your audio processor you’ll still have a hearing loss. The easiest way to overcome these misconceptions is letting people know about your hearing.
- Explain that learning to hear with a hearing implant is a process:
- Some people might think that if you receive your implant on Thursday you’ll be hearing at 100% by Friday. Let them know that you will need time to learn how to hear with an implant.
- Let them know about the different fitting sessions and rehabilitation exercises you’ll have, as well as your goals for these sessions, so that they can follow your progress and support you where possible.
- Let your co-workers know how your hearing implant works, and how you hear best. Here are some tips:
- Explain what sounds sound like to you. If you have a cochlear implant, some people could think that hearing with it is just like natural hearing, and don’t realize that you might not hear how they hear.
- Let your co-workers know about specific situations where you have difficulties hearing.
- Give them tips on the best ways to communicate with you: speaking clearly, not yelling, sitting closer to you, and avoiding situations with excess background noise.
- If you have a significant hearing loss in both ears, but an implant in just one, explain that you’re relying entirely on your ear with the implant.
“When I reached only 5% hearing in both ears I became exhausted, not from working, but from straining to read lips or comprehending conversations. I knew I needed to retire but I still loved the people, loved my job, and loved my company…Since I have received my two CIs my hearing has been restored from 5% to 85%.” – Linda C., bilateral MED-EL cochlear implant recipient
A Hearing-Loss Friendly Workplace
You can also make sure that your workplace is set up to be a great listening environment:
- Pay attention to room acoustics: use rugs, carpets, or curtains if possible. This will reduce the echoes from hard surfaces—like floors, windows, and walls. These hard surfaces cause sounds to bounce around, making it harder to understand what people are saying.
- Work in a place that is well-lit. This could mean putting a lamp on your desk, sitting near to windows, or turning on lights that are otherwise turned off. Since so much of communication is non-verbal, not being able to see someone can affect how well you understand them.
- Use a telephone that’s designed for hearing implants:
- All landline telephones and most mobile phones can be used with the telecoil in your audio processor.
- That means that the phone will send sound signals, wirelessly, to your audio processor—skipping the microphones entirely—so you can hear the other person more clearly.
- To use telecoil, just press the “T” or “M/T” button on your FineTuner remote and then hold the phone up to your ear as normal.
- Make sure that you’re sitting or working where you can hear well:
- If you have bilateral hearing implants, sitting in the middle of the room can be best—because you’ll be able to hear sounds from both directions.
- Sit so that any background noises, or unwanted noises, are behind you rather than in front of you.
- If you have just one hearing implant, or Single-Sided Deafness, sit so that your audio processor is on the same side as the people speaking. For example, if you are implanted in your right ear then try to sit to the left side of the room.
- Use assistive listening devices (ALDs) in places like conference rooms. ALDs are technologies that can help you to hear well, because they send sounds wirelessly and straight to your audio processor.
- FM systems are similar to hearing loops and send sound from a transmitter straight to the receiver that’s connected to your audio processor.
- Some neckloops, like the ClearSounds Quattro 4.0, come with a remote microphone. By putting the microphone in the middle of the table it will pick up sounds from all around and send them directly to your audio processor.
- You could even ask your employer if it’s possible to install a hearing loops. Hearing loops are common in many public areas, and let you hear what’s being said into a microphone or played over a sound system. To connect with one all you need to do is turn on the telecoil in your audio processor: press the “T” or “M/T” button on your FineTuner.
- You might find that listening all day with your implant can be tiring. Take breaks from hearing, to give yourself time to recharge from the effort you’ve spent listening. For example, you could go off to a quiet room to work or take a short coffee break in a quiet space.
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