A recent article in the Palm Beach Post indicates that hearing loss among U.S. residents could soon rise significantly. Some experts even estimate that deafness or hearing difficulties may increase more than 60% across the entire globe by 2050.
The article resonates with us because we have seen many hard-of-hearing and deaf Florida residents suffer disability discrimination in the workplace. The article’s author suggests that such ill-treatment is not always an act of malice, but rather, it comes from a place of ignorance.
Ignorance is no excuse for disability discrimination at work
We can agree that most Americans do not intend to mistreat deaf or hard-of-hearing individuals. However, those that own, operate or manage a workplace can no longer hide behind a shield of ignorance when not addressing the discrimination of employees with hearing problems.
People with hearing loss want to work and contribute to the economy. Employers can help by making reasonable accommodations in the workplace. If you are deaf or have problems hearing, some accommodations to ask your employer about include:
- A sign language interpreter
- Assistive listening devices
- Special software (like a voice-recognition computer program)
- Telephones for the hearing impaired (such as text phones)
You can even request emergency notification systems like strobe lights to alert you if a fire or other emergency occurs. Employers are obligated to fill requests for reasonable accommodations if it causes them no undue hardship to do so.
For example, if the accommodations would pose substantial financial difficulties for the employer, they may refuse. However, they must still attempt to accommodate your needs in other ways, when possible.
If you are experiencing disability discrimination at work, please learn more about your employment rights. Every time a worker with a disability asserts their equal employment opportunity rights, we take another step toward fair treatment for all American employees.