Is sensorineural hearing loss a disability?
It can be. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal law that prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities, including hearing loss. Over time, the government has clarified what types of disabilities or impairments warrant protection covered by the ADA. Formally, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission states, "Individuals with hearing impairments can perform successfully on the job and should not be denied opportunities because of stereotypical assumptions about hearing loss." However, classifying an impairment as a disability depends on the severity of the loss and the need for accommodations. Not all people with sensorineural hearing loss would need accommodations — especially if they are wearing hearing aids that help them listen on par with their peers, but an individual with hearing loss may need adjustments, technical support or other help.
Some accommodations may include phones, software or electronics that integrate with hearing aids. They may also include providing sign language interpreters, allowing a hearing dog (if an establishment prohibits dogs) or work area adjustments in compliance with the ADA.
Hearing loss and your career