Self-Advocacy in the Workplace

By April Corner

Hearing Loss comes with obstacles – many that might not seem so obvious at first. A big one that can get overlooked are the barriers we face when looking for work, such as lack of accommodations or social stigma. 

Because hearing loss is considered an “invisible” disability not many employers know how to adapt for their employees. With that being said, I personally believe that it is important to do your best to advocate for yourself. Now, this is not easy for everyone and not everyone is comfortable disclosing their hearing loss, but it is vital to set yourself up for success.

Here are some tips to self-advocate in the workplace: 

1. Use signage

It can be exhausting to have to constantly remind colleagues of your needs as a person with hearing loss. Consider creating a fun door sign for your office that says something like ‘*Friendly Reminder* I am hard of hearing, please be patient and speak clearly’.

I have also created a ‘friendly reminder’ – you can find this on my Etsy Shop here.

2. Ask for the accommodations you need

It’s important that you have the accommodations you require to succeed in the workplace. Every employer has a duty to accommodate. Ask over email if you are not comfortable expressing this in person. Either way, make sure you voice your needs early on so that people in your workspace know how to communicate with you clearly.

3. Recommend training

If it feels like your employer could use some helpful tips to make their workplace more inclusive to you and others, training through a third-party may be the answer. CHHA National, in collaboration with Mohawk College, offers a wonderful program called the Accessible Navigation to Employment Program (ANTE). They provide free training and resources to employers to create more accessible workplaces across Canada. Click here to check out all the details.

By self-advocating effectively, we can all improve the workforce for everyone!