Reasonable accommodation concerns for hearing loss
Hello all. I have moderate loss and have worn bilateral aids for about 10 years. I was recently counseled by my supervisor because I had asked for some help with prioritizing when a new task was added to my job duties. I was being asked to attend a weekly 3 hour phone meeting (no cameras) and contribute to the discussions. I can do this with help from my hearing aids, but because of my word recognition issues, it is difficult for me to attend to the meeting and multitask. I was being asked to attend and contribute to the meeting while also continuing to perform my existing tasks which requires attention and my professional judgment. I think I could do this fairly well, particularly if I am provided with the written information prior to the meetings. This written information is available, but I do not receive it in time to review it prior to the meeting. I asked my supervisor for help and told him it’s difficult for me to be able to focus on the meeting and the other tasks at the same time. Rather than offering help, I was counseled that my manager could multitask and he doesn’t understand why I can’t do that as well as he can. This is the first time I’ve ever experienced anything like this. No one has ever said anything like that to me. I have asked our IT department to help me set up my work laptop to use bluetooth to connect directly to my hearing aids, as I think this would help me. Due to corporate policies, I was told I have to request a reasonable accommodation in order to have the (existing) bluetooth made available for use on my laptop. I’ve never had to do this before and I am very nervous about making a request, making waves, etc. Do you all think bluetooth capabilities could be considered reasonable accommodation? Thanks for reading!
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Your employer has to provide accommodations, it's the law under ADA. With my work, I schedule a captioner for meetings that are challenging. He/she dials into the call and provides real time captioning with a 1-2second delay, those on the call need to understand I have a writer, and sometimes my verbal responses are after a longer pause, while I read what was spoken. I also have BT hearing aids which help out a lot.
It is sad for all, especially those unappreciative of hearing loss. I suffer from hearing loss and never shy from telling people to speak slowly and distinctly. We can't fault those that are unable to appreciate hearing loss because the only people that can appreciate hearing loss are those that suffer from hearing loss.
Do request bluetooth for your laptop and start educating those you work with about hearing loss. That will help them to begin and learn to appreciate hearing loss.
Further, I have found that I can use my hearing loss to actually facilitate meetings and brainstorming by making people think and speak more distinctly. This in many instances causes people to rethink what they are saying enhancing the communication and synergy for all.
Above all, do not be afraid to explain your hearin and comprehension impediments because everyone that works with you will appreciate it.