Many workplaces in California rely on auditory communications, and this can be a challenge for those who are deaf or hard of hearing. While you might receive plenty of emails, text messages and written memos, there could also be important information you miss through announcements, phone calls and face-to-face meetings. The truth is that this does not have to be your situation.
The Americans with Disabilities Act requires your employer to provide reasonable accommodations that allow you to perform your job just like everyone else. The frustration for many who are deaf or hard of hearing is that these accommodations are often quite simple and affordable. When an employer fails to make these adjustments, your quality of work and perhaps your own safety may be at risk.
Details your employer may overlook
When you start a new job, chances are you go through hours of training, including safety procedures, workplace policies and sexual harassment prevention training. Most of these training modules take place through videos on the computer, but if the programs do not include captioning, you might miss some important information. In-person training can also be frustrating, especially when your employer does not provide an interpreter or you cannot see the speaker’s face.
One aspect of working in an office that does not accommodate your deafness or hearing loss is emergency procedures. You may not even realize an emergency is occurring if your employer relies on auditory alarms or announcements over a loudspeaker. Inquiring about emergency procedures early after your employment is critical, and you should not be shy about offering suggestions for visual or tactile alerts, such as flashing lights, vibrations or digital displays.
Communicating in a hearing world
It is likely you will require special equipment, especially if your office communicates by phone. You will also probably have to take the lead in informing your co-workers how best to communicate with you. Perhaps you prefer that people get your attention with a touch on the shoulder or simply by stepping into your line of vision.
Unfortunately, you may also come across an employer who simply resists hiring someone with hearing loss. This is usually because the employer has misconceptions and a lack of information about those who are deaf. Nonetheless, it is a violation of your rights for a business to refuse to hire you simply because of your hearing loss.