Strategies for better comprehension at work

March 26, 2012

Stratégies pour mieux comprendre en milieu de travail

For hearing-impaired individuals, some obstacles to communication are a daily occurrence in the workplace. It is thus important to know that the work environment can be adapted safely, effectively and often inexpensively to enable the worker to hear and understand better at work.

In plants

Industrial facilities are often noisy, making communication between co-workers quite difficult, especially for people with hearing problems.

Here are a few tips:

  • Choose quiet settings for discussions with your co-workers.
  • Some alarm systems can be hard to hear for hearing-impaired persons working with industrial machinery. Ask for a vibrating or flashing signal to be installed.
  • Depending on the extent of your hearing loss, wear ear protection (if possible) to filter out certain frequencies and reduce ambient noise levels.

In offices

Even in a relatively quiet setting, a hearing-impaired person may experience difficulty with tasks like answering the phone, participating in meetings or simply speaking with co-workers.

Here are a few tips:

  • Work in a well-lit area to facilitate lip-reading and, in turn, improve understanding.
  • Reduce the number of noise sources (for example, turn off the radio).
  • Change your telephone ring so you can distinguish it from other noises.
  • Facilitate conversation on the phone by using a Bluetooth device, which feeds the conversation directly in your hearing aids.
  • A simple alternative would be to use written communications, such as e-mail, to convey impor-tant information.

In meetings

Meetings often involve unorganized exchanges, and comprehension can be difficult for hearing-impaired individuals.

Here are a few tips:

  • Get a written agenda distributed in advance. This will make it easier to follow along with the meeting.
  • Appointing a facilitator is a growing trend and can help keep everyone from talking at once.
  • Don’t hesitate to ask questions to be sure presentations and remarks are clearly understood.
  • Ask for meeting minutes to be taken to ensure there is an official summary of the decisions made and that you have understood everything.
  • Using an FM system or Bluetooth external mic to have comments fed directly to your hearing aids can be very helpful.

In closing, it is always easier to put these strategies into effect if the hearing-impaired person explains to co-workers the main difficulties and obstacles he or she faces in the workplace as a result of the hearing impairment. Sharing this information gives them a better understanding of the situation and helps them help you.

Did you know?
Subject to certain eligibility criteria, the Régie de l’assurance maladie du Québec (RAMQ) will cover the cost of two hear-ing aids for individuals 19 or over who require them for their work.

For more information, don’t hesitate to contact an audioprosthetist at a Lobe Santé auditive et communication multidisciplinary clinic.

– Web site:
– Manuel du Programme des aides auditives, RAMQ.