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About Hearing Impairment
According to the National Association of the Deaf, the term “deaf” refers to individuals who are not able to hear well enough to rely on hearing as a means for processing information. The term “hard of hearing” refers to individuals who have some hearing loss but are able to use hearing to communicate.
Hearing Impairment and the Americans with Disabilities Act
The ADA does not contain a definitive list of medical conditions that constitute disabilities. Instead, the ADA defines a person with a disability as someone who (1) has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more "major life activities," (2) has a record of such an impairment, or (3) is regarded as having such an impairment. For more information about how to determine whether a person has a disability under the ADA, see How to Determine Whether a Person Has a Disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA).
Accommodating Employees with Hearing Impairment
People with hearing loss may develop some of the limitations discussed below, but seldom develop all of them. Also, the degree of limitation will vary among individuals. Be aware that not all people with hearing loss will need accommodations to perform their jobs and many others may only need a few accommodations. The following is only a sample of the possibilities available. Numerous other accommodation solutions may exist.
Questions to Consider:
- What limitations is the employee experiencing?
- How do these limitations affect the employee and the employee’s job performance?
- What specific job tasks are problematic as a result of these limitations?
- What accommodations are available to reduce or eliminate these problems? Are all possible resources being used to determine possible accommodations?
- Once accommodations are in place, would it be useful to meet with the employee to evaluate the effectiveness of the accommodations and to determine whether additional accommodations are needed?
- Do supervisory personnel and employees need training?
Situations and Solutions:
The following situations and solutions are real-life examples of accommodations that were made by JAN customers. Because accommodations are made on a case-by-case basis, these examples may not be effective for every workplace but give you an idea about the types of accommodations that are possible.
JAN Publications & Articles Regarding Hearing Impairment
Consultants' Corner Articles
- A Support Person as an Accommodation
- Accommodation Scenarios for the Interviewing Process
- Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART) as a Work-Site Accommodation for Individuals who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing
- Confidentiality of Medical Information under the ADA
- Hidden Disabilities: Confidentiality and Travel
- Service Animals and Allergies in the Workplace
- Accommodating Deaf and Hard of Hearing Employees in Virtual Meetings
- Accommodating Employees with Hearing Aids: A Beginner's Guide to T-coils
- Accommodating Employees with Ménière’s Disease
- Accommodations for Educators who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing
- Finding an Interpreter for an Interview
- Relay Calls: Types and How to Make a Call
- Sign Language Interpreters
- Teleconference Accessibility and Hearing-Keeping Deaf and Hard of Hearing Employees in the Loop