Struggling with work and hearing aids

Hi,

I’ve had a tough year finding suitable work and I am realizing that my hearing aids have definitely been a part of it. I have recently had to advise my manager that I can’t continue a role due to being unable to hear properly, even wearing them all day and turning the volume up.

I found the customers were getting agitated and my boss, who is a quiet talker, didn’t make it easier.

I am looking at advice for suitable careers with hearing aids. Preferably, where I’m not required to wear masks all day (not all places require them), as they tend to get caught up as they are behind the ear. I work in administration, but wondering if there are other options I may not have considered.

Thank you,

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Well, that heavily depends on your age, your expertise and education, your country (Australia), your current hearing aids and your degree of hearing loss!

I’d say to you that I faced difficulties while working, of course. But those difficulties were no different than the ones faced during my day to day life.

I’m a young engineer and a researcher and for my case, that is mainly:

  • Added trouble when understanding and speaking foreign languages (you know… when I was younger they had to show me a diagram with tongue positions so I could pronounce a certain consonant in my own native language)
  • Noise in restaurants (you know: networking)

I tend to be a bit on the shy part of the personality spectrum, but I compensate that with my natural charm… :smiley:

But you know, I’d say that your current employer has the legal obligation to provide reasonable accommodations to you.

If your duties include speaking with customers, maybe you can ask your boss to buy some gear like a roger pen or whatever the equivalent is for your hearing aid manufacturer.

Regarding suitable works for hard of hearing people… well… I don’t think there’s any work that can’t be done by a deaf person. Maybe there are a couple of exceptions, but that’s it…

:popcorn:

Looking for a new job may be appropriate, but assuming you somewhat like the job, my first choice would be to make sure your hearing aids are optimized and that you’ve looked into accomodations that might be made. So, make sure hearing aids are properly setup for you, see if there accessories that might help resolve some of your issues. See if some accomodations could be made by your employer. For example, perhaps masks with a clear window could be issued. If none of this is possible, seeking help from an employment agency might be appropriate.

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I am now retired but I wore aids while being an IT Professional and doing phone support. The key for me was to be honest with my employer, my fellow employees and the customers. Most of my calls started with receiving a phone call and in most cases moved to text messages and emails. My boss was great about getting me the correct phone equipment to help me hear on the phone. And the conference rooms at work was even fitting with t-coil loops. When I came forward with my issues other employees came forward too. I am not sure about other countries but hear in the USA the laws are on the side of the disabled.

Well you really don’t give us much information. You don’t even tell us how bad your hearing loss is. Hearing aids help, they don’t fix. So there may always be areas where you may struggle. But more information would certainly be helpful.

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The answer lies within you. It all depends on how bad your hearing is, how good you can hear with proper hearing aid, what the job is and how bad you want it. If properly motivated and properly aided, there is no limit to what you can do. I was a nurse in the Texas prison system. It was a challenge every day, but I WANTED to be there. I was motivated to make it work. I made double checking a way of life. When it got to where My safeguard routines failed because I wasn’t hearing well enough (and my audi said there was no more help for me) I retired after 25 years. This was a 2nd career after I retired from the military. Only you can decide what your limits are…

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I had to change careers.

I had been an elementary school teacher. After being out of the workforce as a stay-at-home mom for a few years, I did not hear well enough to work with children. I went back to school and became a computer programmer. My employer provided an amplified phone, but the particular job I had did not require much phone time - fortunately. Even amplified phones are difficult for me. I am now retired, Work situations can be challenging. Computer programming worked well for me.

I wish you well.

I have decided to leave the role now. I’ve spoken to the manager and supervisor about difficulties with masks and struggles with hearing and they didn’t really make any accommodations. I thought I could get an exemption for masks as they can get caught in the aids, but due to health conditions, I’ve been advised to wear them.

@shootingstar
Computer programming sounds like a good choice Shootingstar. I am looking at back-of-house administration work, as I think there were be less use of the phones and noise (aside from usual office noise).

@danhuddleston
Sorry, you had those challenges in your career. I’ve been in the same situation, trying to make things work as much as possible and troubleshooting with different options, unfortunately, when the boss talks very quietly, it is a real challenge. When I first had the interview I thought it was because we were sitting far away and she was wearing a mask, nope.

@hass5744
I have moderate hearing loss. My right ear s fairly bad, if I lie on my left side I can’t hear much at all. I wear hearing aids in both ears and that has only happened this year, so a bit of an adjustment period.

I like the idea of communicating via emails or an online platform. I know there are some customer service roles that are more virtual than phone-based. I have definitely been open with my boss about my hearing from the beginning.

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Yep, totally understand this situation.

Here in Australia, the public service is very accommodating to making the reasonable adjustments required for hearing loss and other disabilities. It will depend on the job though and there are a range wide of public service type jobs. Office, administration or policy analysis would seem better options.

But both in the public and private sectors, hearing loss is generally a career stopper or ender. Most of the other people I’ve encountered with a hearing loss have retired early.

Good luck.

Not to demean your situation, there are masks that have over the head loops or ties. I use them without hearing aid interference. I understand the difficulty with hearing loss. I am now a substitute teacher, wear over the head loop/tie masks, and still have difficulty understand the shy children who peak at low levels. I wear a button that says “I wear hearing aids. Please speak up”. All our situations aren’t the same… I wish you best of luck finding your best case scenario.

It seems to me that your aids are not appropriate. How old are they? Are you sure they have been adjusted for best results? When was your last audiogram taken? Things probably changed since then. I think you need to get a fresh exam before making any drastic changes in your life.
However, if you have to make a change then consider something in night work. A lot of companies operate 24/7. I worked the graveyard shift for several years and its another world. Quiet is one of the benefits and any conversations are easy because there is none of the usual daytime background noise. Plus most companies pay a night differential (usually 10% extra)

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I work remote for my company, in quality improvement and work on grievances. This work has helped me maintain my career and only have occasional video meetings. I don’t have to talk to customers and there isn’t any background noise until my dog barks. I wear bilateral bte and ric resounds but when I went remote with a doctors note to the HR dept, I wore Starkey ric and bte.
HR depts are usually required to accommodate when you have a doctor note stating that you need to work remote.

Depending on where you live, you might be able to get equipment including better hearing aids and microphones and telephone equipment especially for hearing impaired through the Department of Rehabilitation Services (or whatever it is called in your area). In Michigan it is a state office and they provide all of this if you are working and need the equipment to continue to work. They paid for good quality hearing aids for me while I was working. I could not work without them.

Check to see if your country has a Disabilities Act and see what the provisions are. The Rehabilitation Office (if you have one) not only can help you get the very best equipment but can give you tips on advocating for yourself and knowing your rights. Many people with hearing loss believe that they should be able to do any job.

The biggest hurdle I found was job interviews. When someone asks me a question, I hesitate before answering because I am sometimes only hearing some of the words of the sentence. It takes me a moment to piece together the whole sentence ( like a slight delay ) so they think I am not bright.

What country are you in and what are the laws and services where you live for people with disabilities?

Hi. It’s been a while, but I’m finally back at work. While my hearing aids are ok, has any one used a Roger Pen before? I was looking at one online which is shaped like a disc, but they aren’t cheap.

You’ll need Roger receivers for the Roger Pen to work.

If you have Phonak Marvel / Paradise / Lumity Aids then you’ll need Roger Licenses for the Roger Pen to work.

The Disk shaped one is a Roger Select and not a Pen. Again you’ll need Roger receivers or Roger licenses.

Thanks for that. I wasn’t sure about compatibility. Not likely as I wear Unitron. I’ll ask when I get them serviced.

If the Unitron are Bluetooth then I believe you’ll need the licenses.

If your Aids use a Streamer around the neck for Bluetooth, then you should be able to attach a Roger X receiver to the bottom of it and sound will go into both ears.

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Ah, Unitron are Bluetooth. I might need to investigate their accessories more.

What FM systems can I use with Unitron hearing aids and how do I set them up?

Blu and Discover Next hearing aids offer RogerDirect which enables usage of Roger Microphones without the need for any additional hardware after purchase and installation of the receivers.

Most other Unitron hearing aids are compatible with all leading FM systems i.e. SmartLink, Zoomlink, Roger to name a few. For those FM fittings using standard BTE devices, and universal audioshoes, the FM receiver can be plugged into the audioshoe using the standard 3 pin europlug. The clinician would need to add a DAI program via the Fitting > Program Manager screen. Should a neckloop-type FM system be used, the clinician would need to ensure they add a telecoil-based input program via the Fitting > Program Manager screen. The input type could be confirmed by navigating to the Fitting > Configure Features screen, and choosing the Input task box for the desired program. In addition, with all wireless enabled devices, 3-pin Europlug FM receiver units can be plugged directly into the bottom of the optional uDirect 3 neck worn accessory. In these instances, the FM signal would then be provided via the uFM wireless program.

Great info. I was on their site before, but didn’t see that. To be honest I’d like to try different brands. While Unitron are good, the accessories are limited.