• Home
  • Resources
  • Blog
  • How to Overcome Hearing Difficulties at Work

Clear and effective communication is the bridge that connects individuals whether at home or at work. It encompasses two critical senses, vision and hearing, and while most people have full function of these senses, there are some who experience varying degrees of sensory difficulties and impairments. This may not only have an impact on their communication and social interaction skills but may limit their ability to absorb information or to react to specific situations, especially in the work environment.

Supporting hearing issues

People with loss of one of the senses usually compensate by increasing reliance on the other senses. For example, those with visual issues rely more on touch and sound, while impaired hearing induces a greater dependence on vision and touch to assimilate information.

According to Action on Hearing Loss, more than 10 million people in the UK suffer from some form of hearing loss. Adapting a domestic environment to compensate for hearing loss may just involve simple changes or the use of assistive technology. Many TV programmes have sub-titles and even signing support, amplified telephones are available, there are apps that amplify mobile phones, doorbells can incorporate visual alerts. Additionally, there are a range of help and home support services for those with hearing difficulties to minimise the effects of hearing disability situation at home.

Hearing issues at work

The work environment is less controlled and more hostile for those with hearing difficulties. Loss of or impaired hearing should not be a barrier to applying for and excelling in most jobs. However, when employers and colleagues lack understanding about hearing loss and don’t offer support, employees get left out and left behind.

Under the Equality Act 2010 all employers, including Local Education Authorities and schools, have a duty to make reasonable adjustments so those with a hearing impairment are not put at a substantial disadvantage. These can include changes ranging from ensuring adequate lighting, job modification, to the use of specialist equipment.

Open-layout cubicles are not always conducive to people with hearing loss, as there is a lot of activity going on that can be a distraction from work. A private office with a door can shut out background noise which allows employees to focus on work, making them more efficient and productive. But more importantly, technology comes to the rescue and can make a huge difference to those with hearing issues.

Personal aids to hearing

Computer workstations, laptops and tablets can incorporate additional functionality to support those with hearing difficulties. Just as there are ‘speechify’ technologies that can read text aloud or to enable employees with visual impairment to dictate rather than use a keyboard, there are apps and specialist technologies designed to assist those suffering from hearing challenges.

Hearing aids can be linked to computers via Bluetooth to enhance audio files. In the same way, land lines and mobile phones can be amplified or linked to hearing aids. There are apps for PC workstations and mobile devices use voice recognition and convert speech into text in real time. There are even specialist services that provide effective communication using British Sign Language video interpreting and voice-over relay. These are fine for individuals while working at their desk, but there are more general situations which can potentially create serious issues for those with hearing difficulties.

Industrial solutions

In the event of an emergency, most buildings have an alarm system, but even a loud bell or a sounder is ineffective for someone who is profoundly deaf or in areas of high ambient noise. Visual alarm devices are an essential component of any alarm system to ensure everybody is immediately notified when an emergency has occurred.

Many manufacturing plants, public buildings, transport hubs, shops and schools use a public address system to communicate live or pre-recorded announcements over a wide area. People with hearing difficulties may not be even aware of announcements, let alone hear the message clearly.

Bodet’s PA and Bell systems can be installed with strobe lights which provide a strong visual signal that an emergency requiring evacuation has occurred. For people using hearing aids, high background noise can prevent the audio announcement being heard clearly. By installing Harmonys Line, the PA system is linked to an induction loop amplifier so the announcement is transmitted directly to hearing aids, cutting out any unwanted background noise and ensuring the message is heard clearly.

The Harmonys Trio is a triple function audio sounder that is an ideal solution where background noise is an issue. As well as a high-quality sounder to broadcast audio messages, a flashing light provides a visual alert to draw attention that an announcement is being broadcast. It also incorporates an LED scrolling message display to reinforce the audible announcement, so those the message can be clearly understood, even by those with hearing difficulties.

As John Lennon once said, “There are no problems, only solutions” and Bodet is dedicated to that philosophy.

Industrial bell systems

Please contact us if you have any questions about our PA/Industrial Bell systems. We are happy to help you discuss your needs and design an accurate and bespoke system that meets your requirements and budget.

Contact us

Share the article