As hearing care professionals, we need to let our clients know that with a simple request to their HR department or accessibility office, they could get the accommodations they need to hear in their working and school environments.
The Covid-19 Pandemic forced people with normal hearing into the very different world that people with hearing loss live in every day.
Why? Because wearing masks and social distancing forced everyone to experience firsthand what it is like to struggle to not only hear someone but understand what that person is saying.
Things like listening in noise or over distance, being able to hear communications partners with soft voices—all of a sudden these became challenges for everyone, not just people with hearing loss
This proved to be an opportunity to educate and advocate for those with hearing loss and the challenges they face. Social media platforms came alive with individuals sharing their experiences and challenges communicating.
Because of this new awareness, remote microphone system (RMS) technologies like Roger™ gained awareness and visibility beyond the community of those with hearing loss as a vital resource for providing accessibility.
Yet today, despite the awareness and increased interest, access to these resources for every individual with hearing loss still remains low.
Hearing well at work and school is a civil right
The Americans with Disabilities act of 1990 (ADA) is a civil rights law that guarantees equal opportunities for individuals with disabilities (like hearing loss). This act allows for “reasonable accommodations” to be made upon request in the workplace and school environment.
Thanks to the ADA, employees and students who have a hard time hearing at work or in school don’t have to be held back. With a simple request to their HR department (or disability & accommodation office in the case of students), individuals with hearing loss can get the accommodations they need to hear in all working and school environments.
So how can an individual with hearing loss in the US get a solution, like Roger technology, using reasonable accommodations with their employer or school?
- Work with their hearing healthcare professional (HCP) to discuss their work or school environment to select the best accommodation.
- Ask their HCP for a trial period with Roger technology. Using Roger in the real world will help them to better understand how it will help every day.
- Request the accommodation the HCP has prescribed in a letter to their Human Resources department, line manager or accessibility office.
- After the employer agrees to their accommodation, it is important to return to their HCP for further follow up fitting and adjustment.
Now we know better, let’s advocate better
No longer can we “hide behind the mask” of not understanding what it’s like to live with a hearing loss, to live as though we don’t understand the daily communication challenges and exhaustion at the end of the day after struggling to hear.
COVID has changed the perspective of life changing technology, like Roger™ microphone technology, from a nice to have accessory to necessary to providing life changing accessibility.
As healthcare professionals, it is our responsibility to know the services and options our clients and employees with hearing loss have available to them, and to recommend them in their workplace or school, so that they can be successful.
The next step is clear – we all must be advocates for our clients with hearing loss, our employees who are navigating the new ways we work, and our own friends and family who have hearing loss and continue to struggle communicating because they don’t have the technology they need to thrive.
If you reside in the US and would like to learn more, reach out to your Phonak Representative or visit our page on ADA Accommodation.
An eLearn webinar is also available to learn more about reasonable accommodations. To access, click here.
Read Dr Nicole Klutz’s previous blog post on Roger and accessibility here.