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Understanding how the ADA protects those with hearing impairments

Indiana employees with a hearing impairment may be interested in how this is covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act. If the disability qualifies, the person will be protected from employment discrimination based on their hearing impairment.

In 2011, data showed that one-fifth of Americans over the age of 12 had severe hearing loss. These conditions, a study showed, can make communication more difficult. Generally, these hearing impairments have an effect on either the intensity or the frequency of a person's ability to hear. Those with hearing impairments are not necessarily deaf, though deaf people make up a subset of those classified as having hearing impairments. Disabled employees whose hearing is impaired later in life often have difficulty adjusting.

However, this does not mean that those with hearing impairment should miss opportunities in the workplace. The ADA offers protection for those who can show that their hearing impairment qualifies as a disability. They must prove that their impairment substantially limits their ability to engage in a major life activity, that they have an ongoing history of an impairment or that they have been regarded as having a disability. The first can often be met by showing that the impairment is substantial enough to limit life activities. The second is used less often but could be proven with a history of surgeries or other evidence. Lastly, if an employer has discriminated against the hearing-impaired employee, this could qualify them under the third definition.

When an employee is facing workplace disability discrimination, an attorney may be able to help. The attorney may be useful in bringing a claim under the ADA in order to force the employer to make reasonable accommodations or to get them compensation for harm that the discrimination caused.

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