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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 list of medical conditions that constitute disabilities. Instead, the ADA has a general definition of disability that each person must meet. A person has a disability if he/she has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, a record of such an impairment, or is regarded as having 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?
- Has the employee been consulted regarding 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?
JAN Publications & Articles Regarding Hearing Impairment
Accommodation and Compliance Series
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
- Service Animals in the Workplace