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Tips for Searching for a Job When You Have a Hearing Loss

By embracing your strengths, advocating for your needs, and utilizing the support available, you can overcome barriers and seize opportunities to secure the job you want.
Job Searching Choosing Applicants

Despite the challenges of hearing loss, a successful career path can be forged by confidently embracing individual strengths, using effective communication methods, and accessing available resources.

Finding employment is a significant milestone, offering personal growth, financial stability, and fulfillment. However, individuals with hearing loss face unique challenges in the job search process. Data from the National Deaf Center reveals that only 53% of people who are deaf and hard of hearing were employed in 2017 compared to 75.8% of those without hearing loss, indicating an employment gap of 22.5%. According to the report, despite actively seeking work even more diligently than their hearing peers, many people with hearing loss remain outside the labor force due to potential barriers like access, discrimination, or the lack of appropriate workplace accommodations.

In light of these challenges, this article aims to provide guidance and resources for hard-of-hearing individuals embarking on their job search journey. Whether you have mild or profound hearing loss, whether you wear hearing aids or have undergone cochlear implantation, the right strategies and resources can empower you to embrace your unique strengths, overcome challenges, and seize the opportunities that lie ahead.

Understanding hearing loss in the job search process

Navigating the job search process with hearing loss requires awareness of the unique hurdles that may arise. By understanding how hearing loss can impact your job search journey and gaining insights into the specific dynamics you may encounter, you can proactively prepare to enhance communication and maximize your opportunities for success. Some of the potential challenges you may come across include:

  • Application and resume stage: This stage can be challenging for individuals with hearing loss due to the need for extra attention to detail and clarity in conveying your skills and experiences to prospective employers. Using your application materials to provide well-organized and easily understandable information, you can mitigate potential communication obstacles and ensure that your qualifications shine through, helping you stand out as a strong candidate.
  • Phone and video interviews: Communicating effectively during phone and video interviews can pose challenges for individuals with hearing loss. Clear hearing and understanding of speech can be difficult in these formats, making it important to seek accommodations or alternative communication methods.
  • In-person interviews and group settings: Face-to-face interviews and group settings can present challenges due to background noise, multiple speakers, or unfamiliar environments. Navigating these situations while ensuring effective communication is essential.
  • Disclosure and accommodations: Deciding when and how to disclose your hearing loss to potential employers and requesting appropriate accommodations can be a sensitive but important aspect of the job search process. Understanding your rights and finding the balance between transparency and personal comfort is key.
Job Search Reading Resume

The resume stage can be challenging for individuals with hearing loss due to a need for extra attention to detail and clarity in conveying your skills and experiences to prospective employers.

Disclosing hearing loss to potential employers

This is probably one of the most crucial aspects of applying for a job, but understanding and keeping in mind a few principles should help:

1) Decision-Making Process for Disclosing Hearing Loss

Disclosing your hearing loss is a personal choice; there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Consider the following factors when making your decision:

  • Job requirements: Evaluate the specific job requirements and assess if your hearing loss might impact your ability to perform essential job functions. Understanding the nature of the job will help you determine if and when to disclose your hearing loss.
  • Workplace culture: Research the company's culture and policies regarding diversity, inclusion, and disability accommodations. Understanding their commitment to inclusivity can be important in your decision to disclose.
  • Comfort and confidence: Consider your comfort level and confidence in managing your hearing loss in the workplace. Assess whether disclosing your hearing loss will enable you to receive the necessary accommodations and support.

2) Tips for Disclosing Hearing Loss

When and how you disclose your hearing loss can significantly impact the job search process. Consider the following tips:

  • Timing: Determine the appropriate timing for disclosure. It is generally recommended to disclose after you have received a job offer or during the interview stage, as this allows you to assess the employer's receptiveness and discuss accommodations if needed.
  • Highlight strengths: Emphasize your qualifications, skills, and experiences during the application and interview process. Show potential employers how your hearing loss has shaped you into a resilient, adaptable, and resourceful individual.
  • Clear communication: Clearly and confidently communicate your hearing loss. Share relevant information about your hearing loss, such as its impact on your work or any accommodations you may require.

Individuals with hearing loss are protected by various laws that ensure equal opportunities in relation to employment. Familiarize yourself with the following legal rights and protections:

  • Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA): The ADA prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities, including hearing loss, and requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations, such as assistive listening devices or captioning services.
  • Rehabilitation Act of 1973: This law prohibits discrimination based on disability in programs receiving federal funding. It protects individuals with hearing loss who are applying to or working for federal agencies, contractors, or organizations receiving federal funding.
  • State and Local Laws: Some states and localities have additional laws that provide further protections and accommodations for individuals with hearing loss. Research the specific laws in your jurisdiction to understand your rights fully.

Understanding the decision-making process for disclosing your hearing loss, following effective disclosure tips, and being aware of your legal rights and protections will empower you to make informed decisions during the job search process.

Hearing Loss At Work

Individuals with hearing loss are protected by various laws, including the ADA, that ensure equal opportunities in relation to employment.

Job search strategies for individuals with hearing loss

The journey to finding employment can be as challenging as it can be fulfilling, and as with almost everyone, individuals with hearing loss may face unique obstacles along the way.

Highlight your unique talents and what you offer to the prospective employer. You can develop effective strategies that can guide you to find more opportunities. Here are some approaches to consider as you navigate the job search landscape:

1) Embrace your unique communication strengths

Recognize and embrace the unique communication strengths that come with being hard of hearing, such as the culture of listening, attention to detail, and excellent perception abilities. Highlight these strengths in your resume, cover letter, and during interviews to demonstrate the valuable skills you bring to the table. You can also emphasize experiences that demonstrate your adaptability and problem-solving skills in challenging situations (if this is something you feel comfortable with).

2) Research accommodating employers

Look for companies known for their commitment to diversity, inclusion, and accommodating employees with disabilities. Research their policies on workplace accommodations to ensure they create an inclusive environment.

3) Network strategically

Connect with professionals in your field through social media and professional networking platforms. By strategically building a supportive professional network through accessible communication methods and joining relevant support groups, you can enhance your job search prospects, gain valuable industry insights, and access a community of like-minded individuals who can provide guidance and encouragement throughout your career journey.

4) Be confident!

As someone with hearing loss, approaching the job search process with confidence is key to showcasing your unique skills and qualifications. Make sure to embrace your communication strengths, practice self-advocacy, and focus on your accomplishments. Remember that your hearing loss is a part of your identity as a person of resilience and resourcefulness. By being self-assured and proactive, you can seize the opportunities that align with your career aspirations.

Job Search Confident Worker

If you have hearing loss, chances are you're a resilient and resourceful person. Showcase your unique attributes while displaying confidence and self-assurance.

Resources and support for job seekers with hearing loss

Finding employment as an individual with hearing loss can be facilitated through access to valuable resources and support networks. These resources aim to empower you with the knowledge, tools, and connections necessary to navigate the job search process and excel in your professional development.

1) Deaf and hard-of-hearing organizations

Connect with organizations that specialize in supporting individuals with hearing loss throughout their job search and career journey. These organizations can provide a range of resources. Some of them include:

2) Websites designed for employment opportunities for people with hearing loss

Explore websites dedicated to supporting and promoting employment opportunities for deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals. A few examples are:

Keep in mind that mainstream job search websites, such as LinkedIn, Glassdoor, and Indeed, also feature filters that allow you to discover job opportunities that offer accessibility accommodations or are specially targeted toward individuals with disabilities.

3) Communication and assistive technologies

Explore communication and assistive technology tools designed to enhance accessibility and communication for individuals with hearing loss. These tools can support you in interviews and, later on, in various job-related scenarios, such as meetings and daily workplace interactions. Examples include:

  • Video Relay Services (VRS): Utilize video relay services like Sorenson Relay and Purple Communications to facilitate communication through sign language interpreters, allowing for seamless conversations during phone calls or video conferences.
  • Captioning Services: Take advantage of real-time captioning apps like Ava, CaptionCall, or similar services to provide accurate and instant captions during meetings or video calls, ensuring clear communication and comprehension.
  • Communication Apps: Utilize communication apps like Live Transcribe, RogerVoice, or similar applications that provide transcription services, real-time communication support, or access to hearing assistance, facilitating effective communication in various situations.
  • Hearing Assistive Devices: Explore hearing assistive devices and accessories such as remote microphones, personal amplifiers, or hearing loops. These devices can enhance sound clarity, reduce background noise, and improve understanding in challenging listening environments.
Roger On Table Mode

Most major brands of hearing aids and implants include accessories, such as remote microphones and table mics, that facilitate listening in challenging environments, including work settings and meeting rooms. (Shown: Phonak Roger On in Table mode.)

Navigating interviews with confidence

Interviews are harrowing experiences for anyone. Here are some pointers to keep in mind:

1) Identifying your needs

As you embark on your job search journey, it's crucial to recognize and embrace your unique communication needs and challenges related to hearing loss. Consider the various aspects of the job search process, from submitting applications to attending interviews, and identify whether accommodations could enhance your experience and ensure effective communication.

Depending on the degree of your hearing loss, you might find that certain situations may not necessitate accommodations, while others could substantially benefit from tailored support. So, by deciding on the situations where accommodations would be helpful, you can set yourself up for an inclusive job search experience.

2) In-person Interviews

In-person interviews provide opportunities to showcase your skills and qualifications face-to-face. To ensure a smooth interview experience, consider requesting the following accommodations:

  • Quiet interview room: Ask for a quiet and well-lit interview space to reduce background noise and distractions, making it easier to focus on the conversation.
  • Lip-reading assistance: Request the interviewer to speak clearly and face you directly to facilitate lip-reading if you rely on this communication method.
  • Written communication: Request a pen and paper or a tablet to keep handy during the interview and exchange information if needed, ensuring effective communication.
  • Check hearing aid settings: Before the interview, double-check your hearing aids or other assistive devices to ensure they are set on the correct program and adjusted optimally for the environment. This step will help you make the most of your hearing technology during the interview.

3) Video/Phone interviews

With video and phone interviews becoming increasingly common, it's essential to ensure accessibility during virtual interactions. Consider the following accommodations for a successful video interview:

  • Clear communication guidelines: Encourage the interviewer to speak clearly and at a moderate pace, ensuring effective communication, regardless of the platform used.
  • Keep notes nearby: Have your notes and key points close by during the video interview. This can serve as a quick reference and help you stay on track.
  • Utilize Bluetooth capabilities: If your hearing aids have Bluetooth capabilities, consider streaming the sound from the interview directly into your hearing aids. This can improve audio clarity and minimize background noise.
  • Choose a suitable, quiet space: For video interviews, find a well-lit and quiet location, and for phone interviews, ensure minimal background noise and distractions to enhance your focus and create a more conducive environment for communication.
  • Use Captioning: Many of the most popular video conferencing platforms now include support for live captioning, including Zoom, Teams, and Google Meet.
  • Test your technology: Check your internet connection, camera, and microphone to ensure they work correctly (if applicable). Conduct a test call with a friend or family member to ensure everything functions as expected.
Job Searching Video Conference

Video conference interviews have gained popularity since the pandemic. Use all the forms of technology available to you—whether that's headset technology or Bluetooth streaming from your hearing aids or CI processor—and make sure to interview in a room free of noise and distractions.

4) Asserting Accommodation Rights

Throughout the interview process, it's essential to be aware of your legal rights and protections as an individual with hearing loss when it comes to requesting accommodations. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) ensures that employers must provide reasonable accommodations to qualified applicants with disabilities, including those with hearing loss.

As you request adjustments during the job search, remember:

  • It is within your rights to request those during all stages of the hiring process, including interviews, tests, and other evaluations.
  • Employers are not allowed to discriminate against you based on your disability, and you cannot be disqualified from a job opportunity solely due to your hearing loss.

By knowing your legal rights and being proactive in requesting appropriate accommodations, you can confidently navigate the job search process and ensure that your hearing loss does not hinder your professional success.

4) Ongoing professional development and training

Invest in your professional growth and skill development through targeted training and education. Consider programs, courses, or certifications that enhance your qualifications, improve communication skills, and demonstrate your expertise in your desired field.

Remember, the resources and support available for job seekers with hearing loss are continually evolving. Stay connected with these organizations, communities, and technology and hearing care providers to access the latest information and advancements in the field. By leveraging these resources, you can enhance your job search efforts, develop your professional skills, and connect with a network of individuals who understand and support your journey.

Seeking recourse against discrimination

While the job search process should be fair and inclusive, individuals with hearing loss may still encounter instances of discrimination. If you believe you have faced discrimination during the job application process due to your hearing loss, it could potentially be a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). In such cases, you have the right to seek protection and recourse through the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency responsible for safeguarding your interests during the job search.

To file a charge with the EEOC, you have two options: in person or by mail. While you cannot file a charge over the phone, you can get the process started and discuss your situation with a representative. If you choose to file in person, visit your nearest EEOC field office.

Once you file a charge, the EEOC will initiate an investigation process to assess the validity of the discrimination claim. During this investigation, the EEOC may interview both the employer and the applicant, review relevant documents, and gather evidence to determine if discrimination has occurred.

After the complaint investigation, the EEOC will take appropriate action based on their findings. This can involve efforts to reach a settlement between the parties involved, or in cases where a settlement is not reached, the EEOC may proceed with a lawsuit against the employer on your behalf.

If the EEOC finds in your favor, they can seek various remedies for employee discrimination. For example, this could include reinstating you in the job, providing you with the pay you would have received if the company had hired you, compensatory damages to reimburse your costs, or potentially punitive damages for an employer that has openly discriminated.

Remember, the EEOC is there to protect your rights as an individual with hearing loss in the job search process. If you believe you've faced discrimination, don't hesitate to take action and seek the support you deserve to ensure equal opportunities in the workplace. Your voice matters and advocating for yourself can contribute to creating a more inclusive and accessible job market for everyone.

Happy hunting!

As you embark on your job search journey, remember that you're not alone. There is a wealth of resources, networks, and communities dedicated to supporting individuals with hearing loss throughout their careers. Stay connected, continue to learn, and never hesitate to seek the guidance and support you deserve.

Your hearing loss does not define or limit your potential for success. By embracing your strengths, advocating for your needs, and utilizing the support available, you can overcome barriers and seize opportunities to secure meaningful employment.

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Guest Author

Adriana Aleksandrova is a consultant and content writer for Hear4U. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing from De Montfort University. Adriana is an employee health advocate and regularly writes for the healthcare sector. She can be reached at