Hearing loss can make it trickier to navigate the world around you. Treatment options like hearing aids and cochlear implants can make it significantly easier. However, you may still require additional accommodations to help you hear your best. This is where the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) can help.
What is The Americans with Disabilities Act?
Signed in 1990, the ADA was created with the purpose of prohibiting discrimination against those with disabilities in areas such as “ including employment, transportation, public accommodations, communications and access to state and local government’ programs and services.”
Does The ADA Mention Hearing Loss?
Hearing loss is considered a communication disability comparable to vision or speech disabilities.
For those with communication disabilities, the ADA “requires that title II entities (State and local governments) and title III entities (businesses and nonprofit organizations that serve the public) communicate effectively with people who have communication disabilities.”
Employment Discrimination and Hearing Loss
Perhaps one of the most essential ways the ADA can assist those with hearing loss is in the workplace, both while applying for a job and once you are employed.
If you are applying to a business with 15 or more employees, certain protections are guaranteed to you under the ADA. For example, it’s important to know that you are not required to disclose your hearing loss, nor can a potential employer ask questions to determine whether you have a disability. However, they can ask specific questions about your ability to perform essential functions of the job. If you do report your hearing loss, an employer can also ask if you would need any accommodations to perform your job.
If you’re an employee, your employer is required to provide reasonable accommodations to help you perform at your highest level, so long as the accommodation wouldn’t place an undue hardship on the company. For people with hearing loss, accommodations may mean:
- Providing assistive listening devices
- Using closed captioning during video meetings
- Visual emergency notifications
- Changes in workspace arrangements that optimize hearing
Hearing Loss, Communication and Technology
In the over 30 years since the ADA was signed into law, technology, and the way we use it to communicate, have changed a lot.
Since the law was written in the early days of the internet, the ADA does not specifically address websites. Different judges have made different determinations as to whether or not a website counts as a place of public accommodation since it doesn’t have a physical location. However, many states have adopted guidelines that require better web accessibility by requiring features like closed captions and transcripts.
When it comes to using phones, the law is a little clearer. Even before the ADA, the Hearing Aid Compatibility Act already required that all telephones, including cellphones, be compatible with hearing aids. This means any smartphone you purchase at Quail Springs Mall is required to work with your hearing aids.
Additional laws require that text messaging, email, instant messaging and video call services all be accessible to those with disabilities as well.
To learn more or to schedule an appointment to discuss any hearing-related issues, call Hearing Care by Hough today.