Difficulties with Communication Could Signal a Hearing Loss

Difficulties with Communication Could Signal a Hearing Loss

Are you having trouble hearing the people in your life? Do you find you have to ask “what?” more than ever before? Is this particularly a problem when you are in a loud and crowded environment?  Even if you suspected that you have hearing loss and have had your ears tested, it can be easy for this type of hearing test to go undetected. This is called a “hidden” hearing loss and is a problem that can affect anyone.

What is hidden hearing loss?

Hidden hearing loss is a hearing loss that does not show up on a common audiogram test. During a traditional hearing test your hearing is tested in a soundproof room. The patient is asked to identify different tones and the direction and which ear they are present. The problem in identifying hidden hearing loss with this method is that it does not account for the brain’s ability to prioritize sound in loud environments. While the patient may not have any trouble hearing in the sound-controlled environment of an audiology office, out on the street full of noise there are a lot of factors that are traditionally unaccounted for. 

With healthy hearing, the brain is able to hone in on the sounds that you want to hear like a conversation with your friend or family at a crowded restaurant. However, hidden hearing loss affects the brain making casual conversation at a noisy event a frustrating experience. 

How common is hidden hearing loss?

While no one is quite sure how many people are dealing with hidden hearing loss, recent studies have sought to explore the prevalence of the condition. A study from the audiology clinic at Massachusetts Eye and Ear tested over 100,000 patients with complaints of trouble hearing in crowded places over a 16-year time span. 10% of those tested had normal audiograms which indicated that there was no hearing loss, even when the patient’s complained of trouble hearing.

What Causes Hidden Hearing Loss?

Researcher are still trying to understand what the causes of hidden hearing loss could be. While most agree that it is an issue that occurs in the brain rather than the ears, a study from  the University of Michigan discovered a few possible causes. The study, led by Dr. Gabriel Corfas, director of the Kresge Hearing Research Institute at Michigan Medicine’s department of otolaryngology found that one cause of hidden hearing loss could be a disruption the Schwann cells in the brain. Schwann cell create myelin, which is responsible for insulating the neural pathway that runs from the ears to the brain. When this natural insulation breaks down, the brain struggles to receive auditory signals making the comprehension of speech in a noisy environment challenging.  

Another theory that Dr. Corfas’s team suspect contributes to hidden hearing loss, focused on the breakdown of the brain’s synapse that connect the cells of the inner ear to neurons which transmit sound to the brain. As the amount of the brain’s available synapse diminish, it becomes a struggle to hear, as sound cannot reach the brain. While people with this condition may have no problem at all hearing in quiet environments, they will struggle to hear when forced to prioritize sounds amongst noise, due to less healthy synapses devoted to hearing. 

Risk Factors that Lead to Hidden Hearing Loss

Doctor Corfas’s team suspect that exposure to noise is one of the biggest factors that contribute to hidden hearing loss. The research team found that hidden hearing loss put people of all ages at risk. These dangers and risks of developing this condition is heightened due to the ever-rising levels of noise pollution we are exposed to in urban and suburban environments. Loud traffic and construction, noisy home appliances, lawnmowers, personal listening devices and more can contribute to the development of hidden hearing loss in people of all ages. Another contributing factor may be aging as we tend to  lose some synapses as we age. 

 Dealing with your hidden hearing loss

If your audiogram tested negative but you still struggle to hear in crowded places don’t hesitate to contact us. We have strategies to diagnose your hidden hearing loss and help you find the best hearing aids to keep you engaged in a crowd so you don’t miss a thing.

Dealing with Noise Pollution in Your Neighborhood

Dealing with Noise Pollution in Your Neighborhood

The sounds around us enrich our experience. Chirping birds on a quiet morning or your favorite song surprising you on the radio can enhance the precious moments of our day. However, sometimes sounds can be so loud or overwhelming that they can detract from the quality of your experience. 

This is particularly true if you live in a noisy congested area, like a city or busy suburb. The sounds of honking cars, construction, the neighbors mowing the lawn and dogs barking can all add up to an overwhelmingly loud experience. Excessive noise is referred to as noise pollution and when your environment is constantly loud it cannot only be frustrating but cause permanent hearing damage.

When does noise become pollution

Many people love the noise of the city or have become used to the constant rumble of their neighborhood. If you have lived by a highway or noisy road for years, you may not even notice the sound at all. Just because you don’t notice the level of sound in your daily life does not mean that it is not causing you hearing damage. When noise is constantly above a safe level of listening it can contribute to hearing issues. 

Any sound that reaches over 85 decibels can contribute to permanent hearing loss over time. As the decibel level rises that damage begins to happen quicker and has the potential to become more severe. The EPA recommends that when someone is exposed to noise for a 24-hour period that a safe decibel level is 55 dB. Meanwhile a household washing machine can reach 70 dB, which reveals the dangers of the noisy world we live in.

Noise Induced Hearing Loss

When sounds exceed safe listening levels damage can be sustained to tiny hairs and nerves in our inner ear, which are extremely fragile. These hairs receive the sounds around us and send them to our brain to be processed. When these hairs become less and less hearing loss occurs. While hearing loss is often considered an issue of the elderly, hearing loss is affecting more and more young people as our entire culture is constantly exposed to more and more noise on a daily basis. 

Dangers of Noise Pollution

Aside from permanent hearing loss, noise pollution interrupts our sleep, affects our nervous system and can heighten our levels of stress.  Our blood pressure can remain elevated due to excess sound and contribute to heart disease and hypertension. Researchers have been able to find connections between noise pollution and heart disease. 

Major sources of noise pollution

The world around us keeps getting noisier and noisier. Major sources of noise pollution include traffic, lawnmowers, trains, music from neighbors, nearby airports, police sirens and barking dogs. As cities and suburbs become more congested, the sound level continues to rise. However, some sounds that harm our ears come from inside our own home. 

Noisy appliances like dishwashers, washing machines and air conditioners can rise well above safe listening levels, especially if they are running at once. Another cause is our listening levels to music and TV. If you choose to listen to music using headphones for hours on end make sure to take breaks and keep the volume at 60% of potential volume or lower.

Defend yourself against noise pollution

When moving isn’t desired or an option there are steps you can take to defend your hearing and total health against noise pollution. Make sure that your appliances are operating efficiently and as quiet as possible. Use foam or cloth insulation under noisy appliances to absorb sound.  

To protect yourself from loud environmental noises, it helps to have carpeting in your home and curtains over your windows to absorb street noise. If you have a yard, tall trees and shrubs can absorb the sounds from the street creating a sense of quiet in your home. When you are out and about on noisy streets it is a good idea to wear ear protection for the moments when you find yourself surrounded by excess noise.

Protect your hearing

If you do have hearing loss, while it is not reversible it can be treated using hearing aids. Contact us to set up a hearing test. We can help you find the best hearing aids to help you navigate an increasingly noisy world.

How Hearing Aids Can Change Your Life

How Hearing Aids Can Change Your Life

The sense of hearing is critical to how we make sense of our environment and the world. It is a major way we receive and process information which allows us to understand and make meaning of our experience(s). This becomes more difficult to do when hearing is impaired. Hearing loss disrupts the process of collecting and processing sound, drastically impacting various aspects of a person’s life.

Fortunately, hearing aids have transformed the way people with hearing loss are able to hear and navigate. These small electronic devices are designed to absorb, amplify, and process sound; drastically improving one’s ability to hear. This happens through the main components of hearing aids: 

  • Microphone: absorbs sound from the environment and translates them into electrical signals 
  • Amplifier: strengthens the electrical signals  
  • Speaker: sends the amplified electrical signals to the inner ear 

Hearing aids are the most common treatment for hearing loss and are incredibly effective. Being able to hear better cultivates overall happiness and can radically change your life! The benefits of hearing aids are countless, a few include: 

1. Enhance Communication

Hearing loss can significantly strain communication. Impaired hearing restricts the information people can absorb and process. This affects how a person engages in conversation as they often experience: 

  • Difficulty hearing distinct words 
  • Sounds are muffled making conversation challenging to follow 
  • Frequently asking others to repeat themselves, speak loudly and/or softly 
  • Tinnitus, which is a ringing or buzzing noise in one or both ears 
  • Needing to move to a quieter area to hear more clearly 
  • Reading mouths to help identify words 

The combination of these symptoms of hearing loss make conversations tasking for everyone involved. It can lead to miscommunication, discomfort, stress etc. creating an unpleasant experience. 

Hearing aids increase a person’s ability to hear, alleviating many of the symptoms that make communication frustrating! People are able to hear more clearly and therefore respond effectively without the exhausting work of trying to hear. This allows people to be more present in conversations without the numerous distractions of trying to hear. Enhanced communication can truly change everything for the better!

2. Boost Confidence

The energy used when trying to hear with impaired hearing can be exhausting and lead to serious fatigue. Struggling to follow conversations and frequently asking others to communicate differently can be overwhelming. Conversations can feel like more work than pleasure and contribute to anxiety and unhappiness. 

Being able to move with ease during conversations really boosts confidence, sense of independence, and enjoyment. Hearing aids adjust to the settings people are in, helping people hear in all types of environments. No longer having to constantly make adjustments (and asking others to make adjustments) throughout a conversation feels refreshing and easy. This encourages people to participate in activities and conversations more fully and with greater presence. 

3. Improve Relationships

Effective and consistent communication is essential for healthy relationships. Strained communication along with the fatigue that results from overworking yourself when trying to hear, often takes a toll on relationships. People with hearing loss may avoid social settings, gatherings, and events that involve engaging with others. This social withdrawal means spending less time with others and even missing important moments or milestones. Avoidance and distance can create tension in relationships and impact one’s sense of community and belonging.

Addressing and treating hearing loss can repair and strengthen relationships. As previously described, hearing aids drastically enhance communication which allows you to share quality time and space with others! Experiencing greater joy and having more fun with family and friends encourages closeness, improves those bonds, and creates priceless memories. 

4. Strengthen Overall Health

Enhanced communication, greater confidence, and improved relationships deeply contributes to one’s mental and emotional health. Simply put, hearing better leads to feeling better. Being able to perform responsibilities, socialize easily, and be more present enriches how you navigate daily life.

Additionally, hearing aids support and encourage healthy brain function and can delay cognitive decline. Hearing loss has also been linked to other medical conditions such as hypertension, cardiovascular disease, diabetes; as well increased accidental injuries. Addressing and treating hearing loss can be preventative and protects one’s overall health!

How Hearing Loss Interferes with Your Relationships

How Hearing Loss Interferes with Your Relationships

Hearing loss can be an exhausting experience. If you think about how much you rely on the ability to hear throughout your day, it becomes clear that hearing is critical to how you navigate your professional and personal life. Impaired hearing impacts how much and what you can hear and process. The reduced ability to hear restricts the information you are able to process which can really strain communication. Communication is central to how we live our lives so when it is strained, it can become difficult to perform daily tasks, engage with others, and impact your relationships. 

Symptoms of Hearing Loss

Hearing loss can be caused by existing medical conditions, genetic history, and environmental exposure to loud noise. Impaired hearing limits the sound a person is able to absorb, hear, and process which can cause them to experience: 

  • Difficulty following conversations and hearing distinct words 
  • Tinnitus which is a ringing or buzzing noise in one or both ears 
  • Preferring one ear over the other 
  • Frequently needing others to repeat themselves or speak loudly and/or slowly
  • Needing to move to quiet areas to have conversations 
  • Increasing the volume on electronic devices (TV, phone, headphones etc.) 
  • Sounds are muffled and unclear 

The constant experience of all of these symptoms can significantly impact all aspects of a person’s life in significant ways. 

Impact on Relationships

The cumulative toll that hearing loss can take on a person’s mental and emotional health can have major effects including creating tension and distance in relationships. This can happen by:

  • Straining Communication: engaging in conversation can be really challenging. As previously described, someone with hearing loss may need others to repeat words, speak loudly/slowly, move to a quiet setting etc. In trying to hear, they may also read mouths to help identify words. This extra energy to have a conversation can frustrate everyone involved. It can feel like more work than pleasure and with increased chances of miscommunication, it can just be unpleasant.
  • Creating Distance: the work and energy it takes can cause serious fatigue and anxiety which can lead to avoiding interacting with others. People may skip out on events, and social settings because having conversations can be exhausting and stressful. Social withdrawal can mean not seeing family and friends for long periods of time and missing important gatherings. This distance can create tension in relationships and could lead to deteriorating connections with others. 
  • Declining Overall Health: difficulty having conversations, fatigue, social withdrawal, and strained relationships can negatively impact one’s mental and emotional health. It can contribute to anxiety, depression, and loneliness which can also reduce physical activity and impact general well-being. 

Untreated hearing loss can deepen the tension in relationships and worsen the impairment which is why it is essential to address it as soon as possible.

Benefits of Treatment

It is critical to have hearing assessed by a hearing healthcare specialist. Hearing exams determine the degree of impairment, specific type, and treatment options. Fortunately, there are useful ways to treat hearing loss. The most common treatment is hearing aids which are electronic devices that absorb, amplify, and process sound. There is a wide-range of options available that include various features, styles, and technology that can significantly increase a person’s ability to hear.  This can drastically improve one’s quality of life by:

  • Enhancing communication: modern hearing aids can be customized to meet one’s specific hearing needs, allowing a person to take in and hear more sound as well as be able to process what they are hearing. All of the extra work it took to have conversations (needing others to repeat information, reading mouths, moving to quiet spaces) is alleviated. With greater ability to hear, communication and having conversations becomes easier. 
  • Restoring confidence: with this reduced stress, anxiety, and energy it took to engage with others; people can move through environments with greater ease. This allows people to fully participate in activities and be present which can boost confidence and sense of independence. 
  • Improving relationships: being able to hear, communicate, and participate with more ease can restore relationships. Having quality conversation, time together, and doing activities easily enhances connection and overall happiness! 

10 Tips for Communicating with Hearing Loss

10 Tips for Communicating with Hearing Loss

Hearing loss can make engaging in conversation challenging. Impaired hearing reduces one’s ability to absorb and process speech and sound which strains communication. People often struggle hearing distinct words (or sentences), speech can seem muffled, and conversations can be hard to follow. This can result in frequently needing others to repeat themselves, speak loudly and/or slowly, moving to a quieter area etc. Conversations can then feel like more work than pleasure and this can frustrate not only the person with impaired hearing, but others involved in the conversation.

This can contribute to stress, anxiety, and the desire to avoid social interaction. But there are so many effective ways to engage in conversation that can alleviate the pressure and extra energy exerted to hear. By making a few adjustments and using helpful strategies, communication can become easier. There are general tips that you can use to help communication flow more smoothly!

  1. Gain attention: prior to even starting the conversation, you want to make sure that the person you want to speak to is aware. Simply saying their name or placing a hand on their shoulder are easy ways to grab the person’s attention.

  3. Face the person: position yourself directly in front of the person you are having a conversation with. Maintaining eye contact allows people to clearly see and read body language which can really enhance communication. This also means that being in the same room is helpful. Shouting from another room or trying to get one’s attention can be challenging.

  5. Limit background noise: it can be difficult to hear clearly in noisy environments. Background noise can be distracting and make it more difficult to focus on listening.

  7. Speak naturally: by annunciating words and speaking clearly. You want to avoid speaking too fast, mumbling, and speaking too softly. Also, avoid shouting or speaking unbearably slow!

  9. Avoid repetition: if a hearing-impaired person has difficulty understanding a word or phrase, rather than repeating the exact same words or sentence, try rephrasing by using different words. Some speech and sounds can be harder to hear than others so using different ways to communicate your idea can be useful.

  11. Pay Attention: it’s important to pay attention to the person you are speaking to. If it appears that they are having a difficult time hearing what you are saying, they are struggling to respond, look confused or lost during the conversation etc., you should ask if there’s anything you can clarify or repeat.

  13. Limit Distractions: such as chewing, texting, smoking etc. can interfere with hearing what you are saying. It is also important to be present and looking for cues that could help with communication. Additionally, being able to read mouths is an important way some people hear so you don’t want to block that part of your face.

  15. Communicate needs: if your hearing is impaired, it is important to express what your needs are. If there are adjustments the other person can make to better help you hear, let them know! For example, if your hearing is better in one ear over the other, notifying the person you are talking to can allow them to shift their position. If you are having a conversation with someone whose hearing is impaired, it is helpful to ask what they need!

  17. Write details: if you are trying to communicate highly detailed information (addresses, phone numbers, email addresses etc.), writing this information down or texting it are easy ways to make sure this information was accurately received.

  19. Be patient: all conversations require patience, focus, and energy. Impaired hearing can significantly impact communication so exercising greater patience is important. It may also take some time and practice for these tips to become secondhand. So be sure to give yourself and others the time and grace to be comfortable with these adjustments.

Communication is an exchange that involves the effort of all people involved. Being aware of a person’s hearing needs is critical to engaging effectively. People with impaired hearing can have a range of hearing needs that are specific to the degree and type of hearing loss they are experiencing; so asking is always a great first step! By practicing active listening, and making minor adjustments, communication can easily flow!

Nutrients That Boost Your Hearing Health

Nutrients That Boost Your Hearing Health

Did you know that eating a healthy, well-balanced meal is not just good for your overall well-being but can also help sustain your sense of hearing? We tend to overlook one of our most important sensory organs when we think of our health. The following will provide you with insights and information regarding the importance of nutrition in your diet so that all aspects of your physical health can be maintained. Supplemental vitamins are good to take but the best way for your body and specifically your hearing to stay rich and work effectively is by focusing in and incorporating the following in your daily meals.

The super C

Vitamin C is correctly referred to as a “powerhouse” of vitamins. It is also one of the easiest to include in our diet as it is found in many food sources from vegetables to fruits. Enjoy a variety of citrus fruits as a snack or alternative dessert! Oranges are easy to carry. Kiwis pack a lot of Vitamin C punch! Papayas are a great source and very good for your digestion! Broccoli smothered in cheese will get you the Vitamin C you need and the added bonus of calcium! Add some sliced bell peppers to your leafy greens for a tastier salad!  Vitamin C has been found to be a necessity in the protection of the auditory nerve as well as keeping our bones and blood vessels strong and resilient.

The Omega-3’s

Often overlooked but very necessary to our overall health, are the Omega fatty acids found in wild, cold-water fish. Include two servings a week into your diet plan and lower the chances of presbycusis (age-related hearing loss) by over forty percent!

A tuna fish sandwich for lunch one day a week and a grilled salmon for dinner on another, and you will have fulfilled the nutritional intake recommended by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Supplemental Omega-3’s are also highly recommended or can be naturally found in eggs, fish, flaxseed, or open, grazing-sourced meat such as lamb and beef!

Get your Vitamin B’s in order!

Vitamin B9 also known as folate are necessary to mitigate age-related hearing loss and by studies published in 2003 and 2004 respectively. It was concluded that lower than prescribed levels of Vitamin B were found in a high percentage of patients that suffered sensorineural hearing. Folate can be found in abundance in spinach that can be enjoyed in a salad or soup, asparagus, grilled or blanched proves a nice side for any fish or beef dish, as are eggs, broccoli and a variety of nuts.

Vitamin B-12 helps blood vessels to ear to operate efficiently to the cochlear of our ear and passing electrical signals to the brain to translate sound. This important function can be sustained and fed by incorporating dairy, fish, meat, and eggs. If you are a practicing vegetarian, supplements are readily available!

Vitamin A

Make an effort to add in carrots as a snack, broccoli, spinach and of course eggs if you can. They are rich in Vitamin A which is also a powerful antioxidant. Results of a study showed an over 40 percent reduced risk of hearing loss due to age when Vitamin A intake was kept at high levels.

Minerals play a role as well!

Potassium is crucial to the regulation of fluids which we need for our ears to receive in order to transmit sound to the brain. It can be found in bananas, yogurt, raisins, and melons to mention a few.

Magnesium helps protect the delicate cilia (minute hairs) that are found in the lining of the inner part of our ear and carry sound waves on to the auditory nerve. Potatoes, tomatoes, artichokes, and spinach all contain high levels of magnesium.

Enjoy that baked potato or a dip made with spinach and artichoke or fresh tomatoes in your sandwich!

Zinc is found in dark chocolate, almonds, and oysters! It is also a powerful nutrient to keep your immune system at an optimum level as it necessitates the growth of cells and helps keep infections at bay.

Focusing on your hearing health will help mitigate many of the drawbacks we suffer through bad diet, medications, noise pollution, and lifestyle choices. All the information above can help you maintain a varied diet which will supercharge your overall health and enrich your hearing process at the same time!

Age-Related Hearing Loss is Often Untreated

Age-Related Hearing Loss is Often Untreated

Hearing loss is very common affecting approximately 48 million people in the U.S. and 477 million people worldwide. It is estimated that one third of Americans between ages 65 and 74 and almost half of those over age 75 live with hearing loss. While hearing loss is the third most chronic health condition facing seniors only 20% of people whose life could be improved by treatment seek it out. This is alarming because the health risks associated with untreated hearing loss have serious implications for people’s physical and mental health. If people can understand the importance of treating hearing loss there may be more incentive to seek out help. As of now most people living with hearing loss put off treatment until they can not hear in even the most ideal situations and by then people’ hearing loss has become that much more acute. The sooner people treat their hearing loss the better.

Age-Related Hearing Loss

Age-related hearing loss, also known as presbycusis is one of the most common ailments affecting the elderly. There are many causes of age-related hearing loss but the most common cause is the natural breakdown of the tiny hair cells called cilia that collect sound information and send it to the brain to process. While sound still reaches the inner ear, it cannot send the signal to the brain. This is a form of hearing loss called sensorineural hearing loss. While hearing aids can help amplify the sounds lost by sensorineural hearing loss this type of loss can never be completely restored. Even so the sooner you treat your age-related hearing loss the sooner the better. When someone is living with age related hearing loss their quality of life starts to suffer as people struggle to communicate to their loved ones, friends and co-workers.

Impact of Hearing Loss

When people live with untreated hearing loss their brains strain to fill in the gaps in conversation. It is often certain tones and frequencies that go first with hearing loss leaving holes in sound that your brain must compensate for. This strains your cognitive functions and makes simple social interactions much more exhausting. This can also make social interaction much less appealing for someone with untreated hearing loss, often leading to anxiety, depression and social isolation. For seniors, extended social isolation can be deadly. Some of the other impacts on the health of people living with untreated hearing loss include headaches, high blood pressure and muscle tension due to stress. Some studies have even linked untreated hearing loss with the onset of dementia as your brain struggles to hear.

Benefits of Treatment

It is important to be on top of potential hearing loss and not let it progress to a point where it is negatively affecting your life. Admitting you have a hearing loss is the first step. If you are not sure, then it can never hurt to test your hearing. Even if you don’t suspect you have a hearing loss it is a safe bet to have your hearing checked annually before the loss has the chance to creep up on you. Some of the benefits of treating hearing loss are just too valuable to ignore. Some of the benefits include:

Improved Personal Safety and Independence: When you can’t hear the world around you, you make your self at a higher risk for accidents. A simple walk down the street can be full of danger when you can’t hear warning sounds or where they are coming from. This all creates a lack of independence and autonomy for someone with untreated hearing loss

Higher Earning Power: When you can communicate clearly at work and follow conversations during meetings your work will be easier, less stressful and more successful.

Emotional Well-Being: When you treat your hearing loss you make it easier to communicate with the ones you love. Your friendships improve, and your self esteem can heal from a life of social withdraw. You no longer have to feel anxious about not being able to follow conversation in social situations. You will be able to hold your own once again.

If you suspect you are living with a hearing loss don’t put it off longer than you need to. Today is a great day to start your journey towards healthy hearing.

Working with Hearing Loss

Working with Hearing Loss

Hearing impairment is an invisible condition. In the workplace, it imposes many challenges for us to maintain our productivity and communicative abilities. The hurdles one has to face when living with hearing loss are surmountable. With the right approach, effective techniques and technology on our side we can overcome the hurdles.

Assess your workspace

Make sure that you are located in an area with minimum foot traffic. If you are seated next to a window that exposes you to outside noise ask if you can move. Your work environment is important to your hearing health and you can use sound level applications available for download on your phone. A good rule of thumb is that if you have to speak loudly to anyone within roughly one arm’s length away from you the noise level of your workspace is unhealthy.


If you are able to wear headphones while you work, keep the volume at 60 percent for 60 minutes at a time. Noise-canceling headphones are also handy for your commutes and may be necessary on the job if you are constantly around loud machinery. Be careful with the use of earbuds as they work like small speakers within your ear canal.

Establish communication with your workers

As uncomfortable as maybe, it is crucial that you let the people at work know about your hearing condition and how they can help. What are your needs when speaking to people? Disclosure and tips to others as to how they can foster communication with you is your best bet.

Speaking face to face. Getting your attention first so that you know that they are speaking and can adjust accordingly. Having enough time to jot down some notes and asking them later for clarification after a work meeting for example. Find an ally in the workspace if need be and let your boss know that you will be disclosing your needs as work situations arise to maintain communication and productivity.

Research and establish your rights

The rights you have as a worker can be found on the ADA website https://www.ada.gov/ and in it are the details of the laws and provisions that the government has established and supports you. Your employer should provide assistance dependent upon your specific needs. This could range from better seating or workspace locations, the use of an interpreter or procuring a teletypewriter. The more information you have about your rights allows you to be confident and sharing the information will help create a more inclusive work environment. Reach out and ask your audiologist or hearing health professional. They are there to benefit your overall health and better hearing experience.

Confirmation and clarification

Work meetings can be overwhelming so it is best to be preemptive in your approach. Ask for the meeting agenda beforehand and for the meeting notes after. During the meeting take notes on anything you feel you might have missed or are unclear about.

Ask your coworkers if they can also use notes to show you in the case of a miscommunication about the topics or if they are switching topics and need to keep you abreast of any changes.

Follow up with emails or in person.  Your personal notes about dates and times should be confirmed so that logistics run smoothly as possible.

Control the space and flow of meetings

Physically place yourself in the most advantageous spot available. This will allow you to see everyone’s faces and you will be able to determine easily who is speaking. If things tend to get a bit chaotic and confusing you can request that speakers get your attention first and take turns before the flow of communication becomes too confusing for you. If you are using external audio devices such as microphones or laptops that have a real-time speech to text software make sure they are positioned for maximum speech input.

Technology is your friend

A loop system allows you to tune your hearing aids into an environment that allows for clear and concise sound and speech. Portable listening devices and CART or Computer Assisted Real-Time Transcription is available so that spoken words are translated into text via a projector and displayed on your laptop screen. Even something as simple as text messages to and from your coworkers can help you stay on top of your game!

Be honest and direct about your needs

More often than not, people will want to assist you. It is up to you to ask them to repeat or paraphrase something you have misheard or need clarification about. If you take on the role of an educator it will help others and yourself maintain a healthy and communicative work environment!