To Tell or Not to Tell? Disclosing Hearing Loss

In her blog, Getting Hired, Gael Hannan talks about the importance of disclosing hearing loss in a job interview. 

This took me back to my university days. I showed up for my first day of work at a summer job, where I would be a chambermaid at a Bed and Breakfast. A main appeal of the job (to me) was the fact that I would live at the B&B and take in the view of the Halifax harbour on a daily basis.

The owner began my training by showing me the phone system. 

Uh-oh.

With severe to profound hearing loss, (in the days before my cochlear implant), communicating on the phone was stressful for me.

Phone conversations at the B&B had potential to be very stressful. Names and dates would be vitally important—but they have no context and are hard to hear on the telephone. Bluffing would not be allowed!

And so my first day of work was my last. According to the owner, answering the phone was a must for all staff members. I wasn’t interested in trying to make it work by ordering a phone amplifier and other gizmos for their phones—I knew I’d freeze every time the phone rang, and the job would be a miserable one for me.

If I had mentioned my hearing loss in the interview, it would have saved us both some grief. All of the sudden, I had no job, and no place to live, for the summer. I had to find a place to sleep that night, and re-evaluate my summer plans.

Since then, I take a different view of disclosing hearing loss. If my hearing loss is going to be a “problem,” in any sense of the word, I want to know ahead of time. 

I once asked a friend how I came across when I did not tell strangers about my hearing loss in a casual conversation that we were having. I could not follow the conversation, and I felt left out.  She said I came across as uninterested and stand-offish. This is not me.

So now I tell people far more often.

What about you? Have you ever gotten in trouble by not disclosing?  What are the dangers of not telling others?

 

Related post:  How Should You Remind People About Your Hearing Loss?

 

Sandra Vandenhoff is an audiologist with hearing loss, founder  of HEARa, Hearing Strategies coach, speaker, and Canadian author, who loves the city of Halifax.   

 

Comments

To tell or not to tell

I am sure that every person with a significant hearing loss must have a story. I applied for positions and didn't "tell" but of course they probably knew and I applied for positions and did disclose my hearing loss. My wake up call came when I applied for a job that I really wanted and had the qualifications for with the federal government. I did not disclose my hearing loss and when I found out that I would have to do some phone work turned down the position. Later I talked to one of the interviewers and she told me that they really wanted me for the job and if I had asked for accomodation in the way of special phones I would have got them. DUH!!!!

lesson learned

Gloria, what a hard way to learn that lesson! Sorry to hear that. Especially with a federal government position--they would have to accommodate. Thanks for sharing.

~Sandra