How to help a colleague with hearing loss
When working with colleagues who have hearing loss, creating an open and helpful environment is easy and could have a positive effect on workplace performance. To sensitively and effectively handle workplace hearing loss, take the time to learn as much as you can about your colleague’s hearing impairment and what works best for them. Here are some simple ways to help your colleague with hearing loss.
Establish an open line of conversation
Communicating with a colleague who has hearing loss can be challenging if you’re unsure of what to do. The best way to proceed is by simply asking and learning as much as you can about the nature of your colleague’s hearing impairment; chances are they will be appreciative of your efforts, and this will also help you to understand how best to communicate with them.
After all, everyone’s hearing needs are different; does your colleague suffer from tinnitus or Meniere’s disease? What is the degree of their hearing loss? Maybe they struggle most when there’s lots of background noise? When it comes to handling workplace hearing loss, the worst thing you can do is make assumptions, so start by initiating an open line of conversation.
Establish relevant procedures
To make sure everyone in your workplace is on the same page, it can be worthwhile to establish procedures for both a daily basis and events such as meetings and conferences. For example, suggest to your boss that your workplace participates in deafness awareness training, which can be easily accessed through government and community organisations.
When it comes to meetings with colleagues who have hearing loss, establish basic measures such as distributing written agendas, being wary of your speed when reading out loud, presenting information visually through PowerPoints, and making sure the speakers’ faces are well-lit. Depending on the nature of your colleague’s hearing impairment, consider using specialised equipment such as telephone typewriters, volume-enhanced telephones, personal amplifying devices such as the FM system, or interpreters.
When talking face-to-face with your colleague, there are some simple measures you can take to ensure effective communication. Start by making sure you have their attention, whether that be through clearly saying their name, making sure you’re in their line of vision, or touching them on the shoulder.
It’s important for a person with hearing loss to see your face during a conversation, so make sure your face is well-lit, don’t look around or drop your head, and maintain eye contact. Avoid speaking while you’re walking away from each other and, if necessary, simply move to a quieter location.
Create a comfortable environment
Lastly, the most effective way of helping a colleague with hearing loss is to create a comfortable environment. There are many simple ways to make your workplace a productive place for colleagues with hearing loss. Make sure your workplace is well-lit and that there are minimal glass barriers, as these can muffle sounds. Avoid wide countertops and desks as the distance can make it difficult for colleagues with hearing loss to hear others and consider giving your hearing-impaired colleague a working space with less background noise. Most of all, show your colleague that you are understanding of their workplace hearing loss by asking how you can help and initiating open discussions.
Suffering from hearing loss yourself? Contact Art of Hearing
Whether you have a colleague with hearing loss or are suffering from hearing loss yourself, our expert audiologists at The Art of Hearing are here to help. As an independent hearing aid provider, we offer hearing solutions that fit your needs, budget and lifestyle. To find out more about our hearing solutions, contact The Art of Hearing on (08) 9390 8811 or via our website.