hearing loss and employment
People with hearing loss may have have difficulty getting and keeping
jobs. Those that have employment need communications accommodations to function most effectively. Employer's efforts to provide accommodation greatly affect the attitudes of people with hearing loss towards their work.
It may be extremely difficult for people with hearing loss to get a job. Whether
because of ignorance, uncertainty, fear, or malice, employers are often
unwilling to hard of hearing, late deafened, or oral deaf people. This is illegal under
various laws in the United States, but is still an extremely common
practice. In addition to the obvious consequence that many hard of hearing, late deafened, and oral deaf
persons don't have jobs, many are stuck in jobs that are unfulfilling ,
offer no advancement possibilities, or lack challenge and interest; they
are stuck because they think it extremely unlikely that they will get
hired for another job, regardless of their qualifications and
February 2013 - Are physicians with hearing loss
getting needed support
February 2013 - DOT Authorizes Truck Drivers with
February 2013 - Would a Deaf Lifeguard be 'Qualified'
Under the ADA?
December 2012 - Fighting Workplace Discrimination
against the Hearing Impaired
October 2012 - Better Hearing Means Less Stress at
September 2012 -
Truck Drivers with Hearing Loss Can't Cross
July 2012 -
Task Force Examines Health Care Career
Options for Deaf People
June 2012 -
The dollars and sense of addressing hearing
loss in the workplace
February 2012 -
Deaf Americans: Fighting for the
chance to serve in the military
January 2012 - Medical Billing Training
Available for People with Hearing Loss
November 2011 -
New York's finest called out on hearing
October 2011 - Negative employment
consequences of hiding your hearing loss
July 2011 -
Should the military accept deaf recruits?
July 2011 -
Convention: The Dozen Most Effective Communication Strategies
for the Workplace
June 2011 -
NYPD Cops with Hearing Aids File
Discrimination Complaints with EEOC
May 2011 - The Effects of an Untreated
Hearing Loss on Workplace Compensation
March 2011 -
People with Untreated
Hearing Loss Earn Less
February 2011 - Televised Deaf Discrimination
Offers Opportunity for Discussion, Education
July 2010 -
HLAA Convention: Job Search and Employment: Its Clear
Communication is Critical!
October 2009 -
Acoustics in the Workplace
June 2009 - HLAA Employment Toolkit
March 2009 - Hearing Aids Promote Job
Preservation in Economic Tsunami
February 2009 - Disability Employment Survey Results
July 2008 -
Symposium: What Research Tells Us of Lifelong Learning and its Impact on
Earnings for People with Hearing Loss
May 2008 - Law Enforcement Officer with Hearing Loss
April 2008 - Absenteeism Higher Among Hearing Impaired
October 2007 - Hearing Loss Impacts Earnings
July 2007 -
A Quiet Day at the
Office: Acoustics for People who are Hard of Hearing
July 2007 - Hearing
Loss in the Workplace: 2007 and Beyond
October 2006 - Here's
a great synopsis of baby boomers' hearing loss, how it's affecting their
lives, and what they're (not) doing about it.
March 2006 - We've all heard that hearing loss affects all aspects of
life, including employment. A recent study in Denmark
has confirmed this fact, and provides some quantitative results.
March 2006 - An article in the New Standard
argues that attitude, not cost, is the main barrier to the employment of
people with disabilities.
May 2005 - At the 2005 Western Symposium on Deafness Dr. John Schroedel and Dr. Douglas Watson of the University of Arkansas
presented an excellent workshop entitled "Patterns in the Employment and Vocational
Rehabilitation of Hard of Hearing Persons".
March 2005 - Ever notice that most of the people who work in
organizations for the "Deaf and hard of hearing" are either
Deaf or hearing? In many of these organizations you can count the number
of hard of hearing people on one hand - and have five fingers left over!
We're running a series on the awakening oral hearing loss (OHL)
community, and one of our focuses will be on organizations that falsely
claim to serve Deaf and hard of hearing people. And we even have an
advocacy group you can join! More
information is is available in the Identity section.
January 2005 - Will the Department of
Rehabilitation pay for you to attend law school?
October 2004 - Several years ago I started an email list to discuss
workplace issues related to hearing loss. Exchanges are a bit sporadic,
but we have had many wonderful discussions on employment issues. Here
are two emails from a recent exchange.
July 2004 - If you think that the Federal
Government is still looking to hire people with disabilities, you
may be surprised by this article about a recent EEOC study!
October 2003 - Here are some thoughts on employment
and hearing loss, as expressed on the HLWork email list, which
focuses on hearing loss in the workplace.
July 2003 - Hearing loss in the workplace is
always a popular topic at hearing loss conventions. Here's
Cheryl Heppner's report on Beth Wilson's workshop on that topic from the
2003 SHHH convention.
December 2002 - Dreading that holiday party? Here
are some (tongue-in-cheek) tips from Randy Collins on how you can
survive the ordeal.
November 2002 -
Job hunt got you down? If you need a little pick-me-up (or even if you
don't), you'll enjoy Attitude is Everything!
July 2002 - The 2002 SHHH Convention included a
great workshop on hearing loss issues in the
workplace. If you're
having problems at work, you may want to check out this report.
2002 - The SHHH Convention Research
Symposium included the following employment-related presentations:
Innovative Rehabilitation Interventions Regarding Employment by Dr. Steven Boone
of the University of
Arkansas Rehabilitation Research and Training (RRT) Center for Persons
who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing
- Maintaining Employment Status and Enhancing Personal Adjustment by
Dr. Carren Stika of the Rehabilitation Research and Training Center (RRTC)
for Persons who are Hard of Hearing or Late Deafened
November 2001 - Anyone who's read our newsletter for any length of
time is familiar with Cheryl Heppner and her wonderful organization,
NVRC. They recently held a workshop focusing on what employers are
looking for in today's market. Here's Cheryl's
October 2001 - You may have heard about a discrimination suit brought
against Wal-Mart by two deaf men in Arizona. As a result of that suit,
Wal-Mart will be paying for television ads in which the men tell their
story. Here's the information.
July 2001 - Japan Removes Occupation Restrictions on People with Disabilities
February 2001 - Here's a great list of tips
for people with hearing loss in the workplace. Thanks to Trudy Zahn (firstname.lastname@example.org)
for permission to share this with you.
January 2001 - Know any deaf lawyers? How many do you think ther are
in the US? The answer may surprise you, as it did me and some of our
readers. Here's some interesting information on deaf
lawyers in the US.
November 2000 - How are things at work? Does your hearing loss
contribute to problems there? Is communications an issue. Get some ideas
on how to approach these and other problems at the ALDACON 2000 Hearing
Loss in the Workplace panel workshop.
July 2000 - There was a wonderful panel discussion on Hearing
Loss and the Workplace at the 2000 SHHH convention. Cheryl Heppner
of NVRC wrote up a great summary of the discussion and graciously shared
it with us.
May 2000 - Another tough issue is determining for which jobs hearing
is really a requirement, and for which it isn't. Read about a court case
involving an airline mechanic.
Think accommodations are too expensive? If you're a small business,
the Disabled Access Credit provides tax relief of up
to $5,000 a year for accommodations you provide.
Life isn't necessarily a lot better for people who have jobs, even
for those who have fulfilling and challenging positions. Lack of
accommodations in an employment situation can turn a potentially
wonderful job into a nightmare. Read one person's description of an employment situation that
lacked accommodations. Notice the tone of the message. Now
read another person's description of an employment situation that provided
accommodation. Notice the tone of that message. Which person would you
rather have working for you?
More on this and related topics
What would you do if you were hiring a lifeguard
for a community wave pool and the applicant was deaf, but he was also
certified as a lifeguard? A new court ruling this month shows how mistakes
made in assessing the applicant's medical condition can leave an employer
drowning in litigation ... Case in Point: Nicholas Keith, 22, was born
deaf and communicates using sign language. He also uses a cochlear implant
that helps him detect noises, such as whistles and people calling for
help. Keith received his junior lifeguard certification and then
successfully completed lifeguard training. (A Michigan county provided a
sign-language interpreter to relay verbal instructions to Keith during
both training programs.) Keith then applied for a lifeguard position at
the county's wave pool, requesting that a sign-language interpreter be
present to relay verbal directions during staff meetings. The county
offered Keith the job, conditioned on his passing a pre-employment
physical. The doctor failed him, citing his inability to hear. Plus, the
county's safety and risk management consultants expressed concerns over
Keith being unable to do the job, despite numerous accommodations the
county was offering. So the county rescinded the job offer.
Efforts to thwart discrimination against
hearing-impaired and deaf individuals in the workplace were successful
this fall when two Equal Employment Opportunity Commission lawsuits
yielded wins for their plaintiffs. The EEOC won a rare summary judgment
Sept. 21 against a Phoenix company that refused to accommodate and hire
a hearing-impaired applicant. The company, Creative Networks, LLC,
provides services to the disabled. The case arose when Rochelle Duran,
who has had hearing loss since birth and was diagnosed with severe
bilateral hearing impairment at age 12, applied for a position. The job
required a series of orientation and training sessions totaling more
than 24 hours for which Ms. Duran requested an interpreter. Creative
Networks mandated that she find her own, and insisted that they would
pay no more than $200 for interpreting services, according to the
lawsuit. "Creative Networks denied Duran an employment opportunity, and
the denial was based on her need for reasonable accommodations. Indeed,
Defendant's failure to offer Duran reasonable accommodations foreclosed
her opportunity for employment by preventing her from proceeding further
in the application process," Judge David Alan Ezra of the US District
Court in Arizona wrote in his judgment. (See FastLinks.) Next, the case
goes to trial to determine damages and injunctive relief.
Randall Doane has been driving big rigs for more
than 10 years. Driving double and triple trailers, and tankers and
hazardous material, he's logged more than a quarter million miles across
nearly 30 states and Canada until this year when he failed a hearing test.
Doane's wings have been cut, so to speak, as his routes are now limited to
the state of Texas. Along with 45 deaf or hard-of-hearing drivers, Doane
is requesting an exemption from the federal law prohibiting deaf drivers
from driving commercial vehicles across state lines. He's an experienced
driver who wants to drive, but his hearing loss is holding him back. The
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires that any
commercial driver be able to perceive, with or without a hearing aid, "a
forced whispered voice in the better ear at not less than five feet" or
that the driver "does not have an average hearing loss in the better ear
greater than 40 decibels." A refrigerator hum is about 40 decibels. A
diesel truck is 84 decibels. Prolonged exposure to sounds over 90 decibels
can lead to gradual hearing loss. Truck drivers risk hearing loss every
year they stay behind the wheel. Professional driver licensing is done at
the state level, but with commercial vehicles involved in interstate
commerce, drivers must obtain a federal license as well. Most states allow
the deaf to drive commercial vehicles, but federal law prohibits them from
obtaining a commercial driver's license for interstate commerce.
Deaf and hard-of-hearing (D/HH) individuals have
made significant gains in many employment sectors since the passage of the
Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504) and the Americans with
Disabilities Act of 1990, as amended by the Americans with Disabilities
Amendments Act of 2008. However, data from the U.S. Census Bureau show
that only 5.8% of D/HH persons who are in the labor force work in the
health care industry compared to 9.7% of hearing workers. In addition,
data from the American Community Survey indicate that almost 25% of these
5.8% D/HH individuals are employed as aides in nursing, psychiatric, home
health, and personal care areas. Almost 69% of these workers have less
than a baccalaureate degree compared to 59% for hearing persons employed
in similar jobs. This means that, not only are proportionally fewer D/HH
persons employed in the health care professions, but when they are
employed, they are in positions that require less education. Generally,
D/HH workers are underrepresented in those health care occupations
requiring higher degrees and overrepresented in those occupations
requiring less education.
loss doesn't win many headlines. Nor does it win much time in the doctor's
office. But maybe it should. And perhaps America's employers should be the
first to listen up.
majority of people with hearing loss are still in the workforce. That's
more than 20 million Americans.
with hearing loss are five times more likely to take sick-days due to
severe stress than their co-workers without hearing loss. Perhaps this is
because most people with hearing loss don't get tested and treated.
loss is linked to a three-fold risk of falling among working-aged people
(40 to 69) whose hearing loss is just mild. Falls and fall-related
injuries cost billions in health care costs in the United States each
Unaddressed hearing loss often leads to isolation, anxiety, and
depression. For employers, the estimated annual economic burden of
depression, sadness, and mental illness is $348.04 per employee. More
absences from work are due to depression, sadness, and mental health
issues than from any other illness.
Yesterday, the Pentagon unveilled plans to allow
female service members to join combat battalions. Last fall, the military
ended its "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, allowing gays to serve openly.
Now another group of Americans is fighting to wear the uniform. Keith
Nolan, a deaf man, wants to fight for his country. For now, he's focused
on fighting a Pentagon policy that stops the deaf from enlisting. "There
are a plethora of various non-combat jobs accessible to the deaf:
intelligence, computer technology, map drawing, supply," Nolan says. When
Nolan, now 29, couldn't pass a standard hearing test he was turned away
from the Army's ROTC program. Now, he's asking Congress to change the
policy. And in the deaf community, he's become an icon.
For prospective officers applying to the New York
City Police Department, the message seems to be that those with a hearing
loss severe enough to warrant amplification need not apply. Two city
police officers, Deputy Inspector Daniel Carione, 44, and Sergeant Jim
Phillips, 40, filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity
Commission (EEOC), charging that the police department discriminates
against individuals with hearing loss after they were reportedly forced to
retire for wearing hearing aids. The policy is clear cut although
misguided, according to Brenda Battat, Executive Director of the Hearing
Loss Association of America, whose letter to the editor appeared in The
New York Times a week after they broke the story (June 27, 2011). "Barring
young police officers from using the excellent hearing aids available
today and forcing older police officers with hearing aids to retire is
discriminating," Battat wrote
With relatives who fought in World War II, Keith
Nolan has long dreamed of following in their footsteps and joining the
Army. About a year ago he joined the Reserve Officers Training Corps, and
has excelled in the programís classroom and field training activities. He
has all the makings of a model soldier, except for one thing: heís deaf.
While Nolan maintains there are plenty of non-combat roles he and other
deaf people could fill, U.S. military policy does not allow deaf people to
enlist. Heís trying to change that.
The New York Times is reporting that two former
police officers with hearing aids have filed a discrimination complaint
with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) against the New
York Police Department (NYPD). The officers were forced to retire because
of their hearing aids. The article states that new officers with diagnosed
hearing loss are not allowed to join the NYPD, but that existing officers
who were diagnosed with hearing loss could wear a hearing aid, although
this policy was informal. In at least two cases, the NYPD even reimbursed
the officers for the hearing aids. In late 2009, according to the Times
article, the NYPD began to rigorously enforce its ban on hearing aids. The
policy forced some officers to retire and other officers with hearing aids
to remove their hearing aids before going on duty,