Statistically, a proportion of every workplace will be dealing with some form of hearing loss, especially with an ageing workforce. Managing hearing loss in the workplace is an important issue that every business should be working to address for the comfort and safety of all employees.
Effective communication in the workplace can be difficult for people with hearing loss, particularly if your employer or co-workers aren’t exactly sure what they can be doing to help.
What you can do
First of all, don’t be silent about it. If you’re aware that you’re dealing with hearing loss you should make sure that others know as well. This way they’ll be better equipped to improve the way they communicate across the business. Many people are afraid of offending others by making a mistake, but openness and honesty is the best way to start the ball rolling. Most people will appreciate directness.
In order to give your colleagues the best chance to communicate effectively with you, you should give details they would need to be able to help.
Let your colleagues know what they can do when talking to you, whether it be speak up, speak clearer or make sure their lips are unobscured, so they can be heard and understood.
If you have a ‘good side’ when it comes to hearing, always let people know which one it is.
Offer your fellow employees a better understanding of how your hearing aids work, so they can do their best to accommodate.
How your business can help
To start, it would be best for the heads of the business to do their research and educate themselves on the subject of hearing loss so they can implement the most effective and appropriate measures for the workforce.
Speaking clearly and ensuring that you’re directly facing the person you’re addressing will make it easier for anyone with hearing loss.
On our Facebook page, Rae McLean offered these helpful tips: Speakers at training courses and seminars should make sure that those in the back rows can hear what they’re saying, both with a microphone and without, before attempting to do away with the microphone equipment. Also, the acoustics and lighting of a room or office should be taken into account.
Also on Facebook, Debra Grande, stated that in addition to lighting and acoustics, the layout of the room is just as important in meetings. Round tables are best for conferences as all attendees are able to see everyone else talking. Debra also says that she spends a lot of the meetings lip reading leaving her too busy to make notes, so it would be quite useful to have a secretary or intern who could take notes for you or record the meetings.
Another thing Rae says would help would be to distribute or display an outline of the content to be discussed in the order in which it will be presented to help people place what is being said in context.