How to Plan a Meeting for Employees with Hearing Loss
The consequences of untreated hearing loss in the workplace are well known. Those who struggle to hear those around them are more likely to misunderstand directions or lose confidence in their ability work. It is even estimated that over $150 billion in revenue is lost every year in the United States due to hearing loss.
Meetings are where problems are solved and important information is communicated, making it necessary for those with hearing loss to follow along without difficulty. Employers are required by law to provide accommodations for those with hearing loss, so it is important that they know the best ways to make their meetings as accessible as possible. To ensure your meeting is inclusive, follow these tips and remember to have open conversations with employees to address any concerns they may have.
Speak clearly and avoid going off-topic
When addressing the group, make sure to project your voice and speak slowly so everyone can follow along. If possible, look in the direction of those with hearing loss to assist them if they need to rely on lipreading. Additionally, try to keep your statements simple and avoid speaking on topics unrelated to the meeting so everyone can stay on the same page. When you are finished with a topic or discussion, be sure to summarize the key points by writing them in a list.
Schedule a training session with employees
Many employees may not know the best way to communicate with an employee who is hard of hearing. For this reason, employers should schedule mandatory training sessions to educate employees on how best to accommodate their coworkers. You should also make clear that any harassment or intolerance in the workplace is unacceptable and will have serious consequences. If they’re comfortable doing it, employees with hearing loss can speak about their condition and answer any questions others may have.
Choose a quiet, well-lit room
Background noise can be especially distracting for those with hearing loss, as it causes the environment to sound muddy. Make sure to choose a room for meetings with relatively little noise to maximize sound clarity. If possible, adjust the lighting in the room so the faces of those who are speaking can be seen easily by those with hearing loss in case they need to rely on visual cues for comprehension.
Use the proper technology
Many hearing aids can connect wirelessly to various audio sources. With a compatible microphone, speech can be transmitted directly to a hearing aid. Employers should also consider creating various visual aids such as infographics and charts to supplement the discussion. Speaking with an employee about their preferred devices and technological assistance is the best way to guarantee a supportive and accessible space for all employees.
When it comes to creating a healthy business, respect for diversity is key. While hearing loss is often considered to be an impairment, there are very few jobs that can’t be done with reasonable accommodations. By building a safe workplace environment and fighting the stigma against hearing loss, employers can expect to see increased productivity and morale among all employees.