Dear Lipreading Mom,
I've recently lost my job due to company closure. As a new hearing aid wearer, I'm still "learning" how to hear again, and am nervous about how to address the issue of my hearing loss in an interview setting with a prospective employer. My hearing aids are nearly imperceptible to the average person unless I point them out, and have little problem hearing in a quiet, one-on-one setting while wearing the aids, but do still face challenges in a noisy environment and/or with particularly low voices or "mumblers" that I can't lip read (or, worst of all things---"evil" to me---a deep-voiced guy with a bushy moustache... then FORGET IT!) Is it something I should even mention in a job interview? I'm highly skilled, with tons of experience, and have learned many tricks over the years to deal with situations where I can't hear, but I still run into predicaments where my hearing loss presents issues in a hearing world.
Lipreading Job Seeker
Dear Job Seeker,
I commend you for taking the initiative to address your hearing loss in your employment search. One thing I didn't do with the first job I had prior to my hearing loss diagnosis was reveal to my supervisor that I had a loss. This made for some interesting moments in the office. For instance: With conference calls. Or group meetings. Or conversations in the car on the way to lunch meetings. Because my supervisor didn't know I had a hearing loss, she likely thought I wasn't paying attention or, worse, ignoring her during these scenarios. Not a good first impression, I admit.
So my advice would be to embrace your hearing loss---all the time. When seeking a job, make it known during the interview that you have a hearing loss, and explain that you wear hearing aids and read lips very well. If the person interviewing you wants to know more, be candid but brief. After all, you want to focus on your job skills, not just your hearing loss. You see, those of us with hearing loss and deafness can do everything other job seekers can do---except hear 100 percent. Focus on your employment strengths, reveal your hearing loss candidly and briefly, and then move forward in your job search.
Best wishes in your employment journey!
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Shanna Groves was diagnosed with progressive hearing loss after the birth of her first child. She was 27. Raised in a hearing family, Shanna traces her hearing loss to a genetic loss on the paternal side of her family. She is mom to three young children, a published author, and speaker. Her books are featured at www.ShannaGroves.com. Shanna blogs about being a hard of hearing mom at http://LipreadingMom.com.