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By federal law, people with hearing loss are guaranteed access to many services, particularly in the public sector, but many often do not know exactly what services are available. This informational asymmetry can lead to confusion and a lack of service provision. Particularly when interfacing with public officials and bureaucracies, hearing loss should be no reason not to get the services you need!
In terms of workplace discrimination, many of these same rights apply to the private sector, as well. Let’s take a look at some of the rights that you are guaranteed as a person with hearing loss according to the sector in which you find yourself.
Public Sector Rights
The clearest provision of rights comes in the public sector—government offices, public education, and any of the functions of public benefit. In these settings, you are guaranteed to have access to the accommodations you need to be able to communicate.
One of the most important resources to take advantage of is a telecoil loop. This loop is a region in which you can pick up a direct feed of audio to your hearing aids. Some hearing aids are not equipped with telecoil technology, so you might need to wear a designated headset and receiver to get that audio. This service is particularly useful for public meetings, such as town halls, court proceedings, and political campaigns.
If you need to get access to a telecoil loop, simply inquire with the office of interest. They will be able to point you toward accommodation experts to get you connected to this important audio aid.
If you find that you require sign language interpretation, you can seek this service, as well. Hospitals, schools, and government offices are required to provide sign language interpretation for their key services, and you can get access to this service through the office of disability and accommodations at the institution.
Private Sector Rights
Many of these rights are guaranteed at private businesses, as well. One of the additional rights that you can consider in independent places of business is the guarantee of non-discrimination. Private businesses are not allowed to discriminate against you on the basis of bodily ability, including hearing loss. If you are applying for a job, take note of the questions asked of you during an interview regarding your hearing ability. If the interviewer is asking about your hearing ability, you are not mandated to respond, yet you might even believe that your refusal to answer might be the reason you are not given the job.
You can contact the office of employment discrimination to file a complaint in these cases, and you might even be granted another interview. If you already have a job, you also cannot be fired on the basis of a disability, including hearing loss or impairment. If you develop hearing loss while you are employed, you have a right to continued employment, and one step you can take is to make sure that your manager and administrators are aware of that right.
Universal Human Rights
Another way to think about your rights as a person with hearing loss is the idea of a “universal” right. These are the rights that are endowed in any living person, and the United Nations has detailed many of these universal human rights. These rights include health care, education, shelter, and employment. Though each nation-state has its own approach to granting these rights, they exist more abstractly through the notion of humanity.
If you feel that hearing loss is preventing you from accessing any of these universal human rights, you can seek redress through public and private channels. Your right to health care includes access to treatment for hearing loss, so don’t hesitate to take advantage of this important feature of your ongoing health.
With the strong correlations between untreated hearing loss and a range of physical, mental, and cognitive health issues, your access to hearing aids and other forms of treatment is a crucial aspect of your basic rights as a human being. Don’t hesitate to take advantage of the many benefits that wait in store for you when you receive the treatment you need!
If you are ready to experience the life-changing benefits of hearing loss treatment, we are here to help. Contact us today to schedule a hearing test and consultation!