Nearly 30 years after the Americans Disabilities Act was signed into law, I’ve noticed that some employees continue to hide their hearing loss at work or do not request accommodations. Fellow blogger Shari Eberts wrote a compelling post called How to Combat the Stigma of Hearing Loss, which I highly recommend reading. There are a number of reasons for not disclosing hearing loss on the job. Fear of being stigmatized by supervisors and coworkers. Fear of being thought of as “less than” because of revealing a disability. Fear of not advancing in a career should they disclose their hearing loss.
Yep. It all boils down to fear.
I recently asked some friends with hearing loss if they requested on-the-job accommodations. Most said “yes” and received them.
Recently, I became more vocal about my hearing loss needs where I work. This included reaching out to my supervisor to request captioning of future training videos. I also reached out to the human resources department and am now going through a formal process with my employer to ensure I have the requested accommodations.
Only recently did I start wearing a ponytail at work because I didn’t want my hearing aids to be noticeable. I have been employed at this job two years.
The stigma needs to go away.
What steps have you taken to combat the stigma of hearing loss at work or in your everyday life? What were the results? I would like to encourage discussion of this topic, so please share your experiences in the comments below.