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Disability (Rehabilitation Act)


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julie0717  
#1 Posted : Tuesday, September 26, 2017 4:13:16 PM(UTC)
julie0717

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I've been with my agency for over 15 years. When I was hired, they were debating about hiring me as a Schedule A or Outstanding Scholar. They ended up going with Outstanding Scholar, but my hearing impairment has been well documented since the very first day I came into the workplace. Over the years, I've managed to get by okay. Amplification devices on my phone, etc were enough to keep me accommodated.

Now, I'm running into a situation where my speech reception has decreased dramatically. An updated audiology report shows that I still have a severe hearing loss, but now my speech reception is only at about 36% WITH incredible amplification and no background noise. Working in a very busy office environment, I'm struggling to say the least.

The reasonable accommodation process is so daunting and frustrating. I asked for a change in workload duties along with a captioned telephone. They've ignored my requests for workload changes and are working on seeing if I can get approved for a captioned phone. The RA folks told me to talk to my local management about the others, my local management says she needs to wait to see what the RA folks recommend and then will talk to the EEO people first. Meanwhile- I'm floundering. I take great pride in my work. Are they going to force me to retire on disability? I don't know enough about my rights. I don't want to be demanding, but I also cannot continue struggling the way that I am. I feel like I'm putting a target on myself for rocking the boat, when all I want is to do my job well.

Anyone else out there with a hearing impairment? What kind of accommodations were you able to get? I'd like to request telework with a captioned phone- but I'm too afraid of it. There are no private spaces or quiet rooms in my building (literally none).

Thanks for sharing any information or advice!
frankgonzalez  
#2 Posted : Wednesday, September 27, 2017 3:08:32 AM(UTC)
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Originally Posted by: workergirl Go to Quoted Post
I've been with my agency for over 15 years. When I was hired, they were debating about hiring me as a Schedule A or Outstanding Scholar. They ended up going with Outstanding Scholar, but my hearing impairment has been well documented since the very first day I came into the workplace. Over the years, I've managed to get by okay. Amplification devices on my phone, etc were enough to keep me accommodated.

Now, I'm running into a situation where my speech reception has decreased dramatically. An updated audiology report shows that I still have a severe hearing loss, but now my speech reception is only at about 36% WITH incredible amplification and no background noise. Working in a very busy office environment, I'm struggling to say the least.

The reasonable accommodation process is so daunting and frustrating. I asked for a change in workload duties along with a captioned telephone. They've ignored my requests for workload changes and are working on seeing if I can get approved for a captioned phone. The RA folks told me to talk to my local management about the others, my local management says she needs to wait to see what the RA folks recommend and then will talk to the EEO people first. Meanwhile- I'm floundering. I take great pride in my work. Are they going to force me to retire on disability? I don't know enough about my rights. I don't want to be demanding, but I also cannot continue struggling the way that I am. I feel like I'm putting a target on myself for rocking the boat, when all I want is to do my job well.

Anyone else out there with a hearing impairment? What kind of accommodations were you able to get? I'd like to request telework with a captioned phone- but I'm too afraid of it. There are no private spaces or quiet rooms in my building (literally none).

Thanks for sharing any information or advice!
You ask for what you think will work, and your manager/agency tries to approve what is needed (or at least that is how it is supposed to work).


Look at www.cap.mil and www.askjan.org for accommodation ideas. CAP (depending on your agency..most use CAP) can provide items free of charge (though this time of year it may not occur until after October). AskJAN can help with solutions..and you can email them, and your supervisor can call them for assistance. Again, no cost to you or the agency.

You should have voted Cthulu...the greatest of all Evils
ex-military  
#3 Posted : Thursday, September 28, 2017 8:52:26 AM(UTC)
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I am confused and I am not trying to be facetious or make light of anybody's impairments. If your impairment is a loss of hearing, why the need for a "quiet room"? These seem to be conflicting circumstances (for lack of a better word).
TheRealOrange  
#4 Posted : Thursday, September 28, 2017 9:11:25 AM(UTC)
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Originally Posted by: ex-military Go to Quoted Post
I am confused and I am not trying to be facetious or make light of anybody's impairments. If your impairment is a loss of hearing, why the need for a "quiet room"? These seem to be conflicting circumstances (for lack of a better word).

Actually, some hearing loss is aggravated by surrounding noise so that a person has difficulty focusing the hearing. The JAN information I provided the OP in another thread addresses that issue. The possible accommodations when this occurs include the use of a quiet room to avoid distractions and exposure to extraneous noise (e.g., office equipment, hallway chatter, machinery, etc.). If needed, noise abatement panels to reduce the noise levels can also be installed.

thanks 2 users thanked TheRealOrange for this useful post.
ex-military on 9/28/2017(UTC), SD Analyst on 9/29/2017(UTC)
julie0717  
#5 Posted : Thursday, September 28, 2017 10:20:20 AM(UTC)
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Yes. That's it exactly. My hearing loss makes it extremely difficult to understand what I am hearing. So background noises, multiple people talking etc- makes it absolutely confusing and nearly impossible to hear and understand the person sitting right in front of me. Even the best hearing aids cannot fix what happens in my brain once the sound gets there. It's tough to say the least.
frankgonzalez  
#6 Posted : Thursday, September 28, 2017 10:39:00 AM(UTC)
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Originally Posted by: workergirl Go to Quoted Post
Yes. That's it exactly. My hearing loss makes it extremely difficult to understand what I am hearing. So background noises, multiple people talking etc- makes it absolutely confusing and nearly impossible to hear and understand the person sitting right in front of me. Even the best hearing aids cannot fix what happens in my brain once the sound gets there. It's tough to say the least.
When my tinnitus is at its worst, I'm with you. I have to close my office door, and run my fan for the white noise so I can hear what is being said. And depending on the pitch of the person's voice, even that doesn't help.

You should have voted Cthulu...the greatest of all Evils
Frankish  
#7 Posted : Monday, October 09, 2017 8:31:39 AM(UTC)
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I have acute hearing and a sensitivity to sound and vibration. A deadpan silent room is heaven on earth to me. The average office environment is ideal only for individuals with normal hearing.

As to the reasonable accommodation request the ball is in your court; the ball is always in your court. Complete the form time and time again. Attached the note from the doctor time and time again. Management has little understanding of EEO or the reasonable accommodation process and management has little interest in understanding the reasonable accommodation process. At best experienced management are perceived as empathetic. The EEO staff and the staff tasked with managing the reasonable accommodation process have equally poor understanding of the reasonable accommodation process. The process is simple enough: request an accommodation, the employer provides the accommodation or an alternate accommodation, an unpractical alternate accommodation results in other alternatives including alternate roles and/or telework, and ultimately disability retirement if none of the accommodations work. Either learn your rights or continue to be a patsy. What do you have to loose? At this point you can no longer do the job. Each and every department and bureau posts EEO and reasonable accommodation processes and procedures. Quote the process and procedures in the requests. Again, submit the request time and time again. The disability does not go away after you submit the request. Hire a lawyer. Talk to the union. CC upper management of both EEO and the immediate department in all correspondences. Document all correspondences. Expect to be pushed out the door over a period of time; but based on your actions the period of time will be either months or years.

thanks 1 user thanked Frankish for this useful post.
Twiggy on 10/9/2017(UTC)
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