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Disclosing Your Hearing Loss To Your Employer

Hearing loss is a concern in the workplace. Estimates suggest that 60% of workers in the U.S. have some degree of hearing loss, and there is a tremendous need for education and services to address this growing problem. If you have a hearing loss, the first step you can take is to inform your employer about your hearing loss.

When to Discuss Your Hearing Loss

All employers in the U.S. must provide accommodations for workers with hearing loss per the law. Even so, hearing loss remains a barrier for applicants and workers who have difficulty with communication. A recent survey is considering when is the best time for an employee to discuss their hearing loss with their employer. The responses vary:

  • 11% say during the job application process
  • 33% think disclosure during the job interview is best
  • 14% of the respondents feel like it is appropriate upon receipt of the job offer
  • Only 3% believe the first day of the job is appropriate
  • In the first few months of the job say 12%
  • 5% think you should never reveal the hearing loss

22% of the people responding indicate that hearing loss disclosure is appropriate if it interferes with their job duties.

Disclosing Your Hearing Loss

Managing a hearing loss at work is challenging. Research shows that it is best to inform others of your hearing loss. When the subject of hearing loss arises, those with hearing loss tend to respond in different ways. Some people are forthright about their hearing loss and have no problem discussing it in detail. Some employees prefer not to talk about their hearing loss and continuously ask others to repeat themselves or speak up. Finally, some workers are willing to disclose their hearing loss and propose a communication strategy before beginning a conversation.
There are multiple ways for employees with hearing loss to handle it at work. Most researchers suggest a multi-disclosure approach that involves letting others know of your hearing loss. The co-workers will respond by speaking clearly and slowly, and it lets others know that your hearing loss does not define you.

Accommodations

When you disclose your hearing loss, there are accommodations you can request to make your work environment more accommodating.

  • Work area. When discussing hearing loss with your employer, make it clear that you wish to be as productive as possible.
  • Assistive listening devices (ALDs) are an option. Determine which system works best for you, check the price, and have your employer purchase one.
  • Telephones. You are permitted to have a hearing aid compatible (HAC) telephone at your place of work. You are also entitled to a captioned telephone service.
  • Emergency notification systems. Lights on fire alarms, vibrating pagers, and other emergency assistive devices should be put into place when you accept your new job.

If you are having challenges with your hearing, take the necessary steps to have the proper accommodations put into place. Everyone should get a hearing evaluation from a hearing healthcare professional regularly to diagnose a possible hearing loss and receive treatment.

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Newest American Girl Doll Doesn’t Let Hearing Loss Hold Her Back

Growing up, it can be a very special thing to find a toy that you relate to. That special toy that speaks to who you are. This can be especially true with dolls.
American Girl has long created dolls that reflect the children by whom they are loved. With stories, accessories, clothes, furniture and even physical features that speak to kids and parents alike. American Girl’s newest doll is doing it again, this time with kids with hearing loss in mind.
American Girl dolls
If you have kids in your life, chances are you’ve heard of the company American Girl. The company’s dolls are often a popular choice with backstories that help turn the dolls into almost living and breathing girls and so many options to customize the dolls that each one can become entirely unique. They are so popular that they even have entire stores across the country offering doll designs, salons, doll makeovers, dining and more.
It’s not hard to find a doll that’s seemingly made just for you. Joss Kendrick, the newest addition to the American Girl line, is making that especially true for kids with hearing loss.
Meet Joss Kendrick
In a recent announcement, American Girl introduced Joss Kendrick as the 2020 Girl of the Year. According to the announcement, Joss is “a fierce athlete born with hearing loss and a passion for surfing and competitive cheer.” While American Girl has long offered hearing aids as an accessory for their dolls, Joss is the first doll to include hearing loss as part of her story and identity.
American Girl did not take the creation of this newest character lightly. To create Joss, they teamed up with several experts including:

  • Crystal DaSilva—Women’s Deaf Shortboard champion and winner of national and world titles
  • Sara Jo Moen & Julie Peterson—Owners of Fury Athletics in Madison, WI, a training gym for competitive cheer teams
  • Sharon Pajka, Ph.D.—Professor of English at Gallaudet University and a specialist in portrayals of deaf characters in adolescent literature
  • Jennifer Richardson, Au.D.—Educational audiologist and founder of Hearing Milestones Foundation
  • Bianca Valenti—Professional big wave surfer and co-founder of the Committee for Equity in Women’s Surfing

This inspirational new doll, the company believes, will help demonstrate to kids the importance of trying new things and going beyond stereotypes, among other things.
To help bring it all to life, the company is also working with 17-year-old surfer Caroline Marks, who is currently preparing to be part of the first-ever U.S. Women’s Olympic surfing team next summer, on the launch of Joss.
“American Girl has a rich legacy of creating timeless characters who encourage girls to reach for new heights and discover who they’re meant to be,” said Jamie Cygielman, General Manager of American Girl. “We’re proud to welcome Joss Kendrick, whose stories are sure to instill confidence and character in girls who are learning to think about the possibilities in their own lives. Working with Olympic hopeful surfer Caroline Marks adds real-world inspiration about what can happen when you go ‘all in’ on your dreams.”
This newest doll from American Girl is a welcome addition to the line for families with hearing loss, bringing to life a child who doesn’t let hearing impairment hold her back in any way.

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Is My Exercise Routine Causing My Hearing Loss?

exercise and tinnitus

With centuries worth of knowledge and research surrounding the benefits of working out and your body and psyche, it’s no wonder that diet and exercise are prescribed to treat almost anything. Patients suffering from serious ailments such as heart disease, high blood pressure, depression, and even cancer are recommended to exercise to protect their health, but your dedication to the gym may actually cause more harm than good when it comes to your hearing. Before signing up for that new membership, learn how strenuous exercise alongside loud music could be the cause of your tinnitus and hearing loss.

Heavy Lifting and Damaged Hearing

Strenuous exercise can lead to serious exertion on your part, causing you to strain your body or hold your breath when lifting heavy weights. This extreme straining can cause a dangerous build-up of pressure within your brain known as “intracranial pressure”, which can sequentially find its way into the ears. Holding your breath while straining can compound the effect, leading to even more of this pressure in the brain and inner ear. Why is this dangerous? Increased pressure in the inner ear can cause a Perilymphatic Fistula (PLF), a small defect or tear in one or both thin membranes that keep fluid in the inner ear from reaching the middle ear cavity. If excessive pressure results in a PLF, inner ear fluid may leak into the middle ear, causing issues with balance, tinnitus, sensitive hearing, and even sudden hearing loss. These tears can heal on their own but sometimes may require surgery to the ear canal.

Turn Down The Volume of Your Workout Playlist

When committing to serious exercise, motivation is critical to reaching your workout goals. For athletes and fitness enthusiasts alike, the right soundtrack is vital to keeping you motivated and in the zone. But when listening to your favorite workout playlist, how loud is too loud?
Competing with noise from machines and other members, research has shown that many gyms play their music at a dangerous level to keep you stimulated, sometimes reaching volumes of 99 decibels. For perspective, the human ear can only withstand 1 hours worth of exposure to 94 decibels before damage occurs. If your ears are ringing after attending your next spin class, it might be beneficial to ask your gym to lower the tunes.
Most people exercise to their own catered playlist though, often played through headphones at an ear-splitting level. With iPhones capable of reaching volumes of 110 decibels (the equivalent of a live rock concert), you could be subjecting your hearing to 16 times the level deemed safe every time you hit the gym.

What You Can Do

  1. Lowering the volume during your next workout can save you from the bothersome buzzing of tinnitus or permanent hearing damage. Use the built-in volume limit feature on your iPhone or politely ask the gym to lower the music.
  2. If you know you will be subjected to loud noises such as music or members dropping weights, consider wearing ear protection on your next visit.
  3. Reduce the weight. Lifting far more than your body can handle may look cool, but a PLF is not.
  4. If you experience hearing loss or symptoms of tinnitus after a workout, seek out the advice and help of a health care provider or audiologist.
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Surprising Ways To Lose Your Hearing Aids

lost hearing aids

With all of our various gadgets, devices, and wearable tech, it’s no wonder that Americans spend an average of 2.5 whole days each and every year looking for their lost belongings. As you might imagine, the smaller things are, the easier it is to lose them, which doesn’t bode well for important, yet tiny, medical devices, such as hearing aids.
Thanks to modern technology, our hearing aids have gotten smaller and smaller, which is awesome for those of us who like to rock the latest in invisible in-the-ear hearing aids, but not-so-great when we accidentally misplace our hearing devices. Especially when we consider the high cost of hearing aids, losing them is more than a minor inconvenience.
Avoid Misplacing Your Hearing Aids
One of the main reasons why people misplace their hearing aids is because they don’t have a set hearing aid routine, which can help people be more responsible hearing aid owners. A good way to avoid losing your hearing aids is to wear them whenever you’re awake since it’s pretty difficult to lose your hearing aids when they’re in your ears.
Additionally, it’s important to develop good hearing aid habits, such as always placing your hearing aids in their carrying case or in their charging station when you’re not wearing them. By putting your hearing aids in the same place every time, you’re less likely to lose them or misplace them.
That being said, sometimes this is easier said than done. Especially if you’re tired and just want to take a nap on the couch, it can be tempting to set your hearing aids down on the coffee table. But, when you wake up and walk over to the kitchen to make a snack, you’ll likely forget where you placed your hearing aids, creating some unnecessary panic for your day.
Additionally, it can be helpful to keep a hearing aid carrying case on you at all times. If you carry around a handbag, laptop case, or a small backpack with you to work or on your travels, leaving a small hearing aid case in one of the pockets can be a great way to keep track of where your hearing aids are if you need to take them out.
Odd Places To Lose Your Hearing Aids
Sometimes, despite our best efforts, our hearing aids can get away from us. In fact, people have had their small in-the-ear hearing aids fall out of their ears in some strange places, such as in a parking lot, or even at the bottom of a dishwasher.
The most common reason hearing aids seem to disappear, you ask? Your family dog. While young Fido might be a great pup, he might also be your prime suspect when your hearing aids go missing. Dogs have been known to use hearing aids as their personal chew toys, which is a huge financial loss, as well as a medical concern for your pup.
Oh, and don’t forget about your batteries, either. Hearing aid batteries are, for better or for worse, quite small and shiny, so they’re a prime choking hazard for young children. Keep your hearing aids and your batteries in a protective case and out of reach of your children and your pets at all times.
How To Deal With Lost Hearing Aids
If, despite your best efforts, you manage to lose your hearing aids, you’ll want to get in contact with your hearing health care provider right away. Sometimes, your hearing healthcare provider will have loaner pairs that they can lend to you while you file a warranty claim or wait for a new pair to arrive.
Although replacing a lost pair of hearing aids is a major financial investment, it’s important to do so as soon as possible. Going without your hearing aids for too long can be detrimental to your health, so if you’ve lost or damaged your hearing aids, be sure to get them replaced right away!

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Job Hunting With A Hearing Loss

job hunting with hearing loss

If you have a hearing loss and are job seeking, you may be wondering what you need to do to land the job successfully. When seeking a job, it is essential to put the hearing loss to the side and realize that to get hired you must be the best candidate for the position. Despite being hearing impaired, you must do what the other candidates are doing to prepare for the job. You will need the right tools in place as well as an understanding of your hearing loss. It is essential to understand what work accommodations will work for you and how to go about getting them. Here is advice to help you with your next job hunt.

Filling Out The Application

When applying for jobs, make sure you pick ones for which you are qualified. The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 makes discrimination against any qualified employee with disabilities unlawful. Ask yourself if you can perform the essential functions of the job and if your experience qualifies you for the work. A job announcement will probably list the crucial tasks of a job, or it will come up in the job interview discussion. If not, ask! What skills does the job require? Be sure you have the expertise to perform the essential functions. Check out www.ada.gov for multiple resources to help you.

When To Tell A Prospective Employer Of Your Hearing Loss

An employer is not allowed to ask you about medical conditions or make your employment contingent upon passing a medical exam. It is your decision when to discuss your hearing loss with an employer. Please understand that an employer can ask if you can perform the job duties with or without accommodation. When you do decide to speak to the employer, here are a few tips that may help you:

  • If you are involved in a telephone interview and use phone captioning, tell the prospective employer about possible response delays.
  • You will need to disclose your hearing loss if you require CART or a sign language interpreter.
  • If you believe you will need accommodations for the job to participate in meetings, phone calls, or other work tasks, inform the employer at the job interview.
  • Having a positive attitude and being comfortable with your hearing loss may give you an advantage during an interview as you display a can-do attitude which employers value.

Use Your Strengths

If you have a hearing loss, try to avoid any job that may emphasize your limitations. Even if an employer will make reasonable accommodations, try to find jobs that need minimal accommodations. Does the job require functioning as a team? If this is the situation, try to locate work where all team members are in one place as opposed to using teleconferences. Avoid those jobs that are carried out in noisy environments unless it will benefit your job performance.
Don’t make an apology for your hearing loss and don’t dwell on it. Instead, keep the focus on what you can do for the employer and how you can be a tremendous asset to their company. Remember, the employer is trying to imagine you as a part of their work team. It is up to you to make sure they see you and your talents and not your hearing loss.