January 24, 2023

EEOC Publishes Guidance on Hearing Disabilities in the Workplace & the ADA

On January 24th, the EEOC published guidance on “Hearing Disabilities in the Workplace and the Americans with Disabilities Act.” This updates a related guidance published in 2014.

Why now? The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders reported this month that approximately 15% of American adults report some trouble hearing. Those people may have ADA disabilities. Topics in the Guidance include:

  •  Obtaining, Using and Disclosing Medical Information (for applicants v. employees)
  • Keeping Medical Information Confidential
  • Accommodating Applicants and Employees
  • Concerns About Safety
  • Harassment
  • Retaliation and Interference
  • …and more (including telling individuals how they can file a charge against private and public employers).


Some tips and reminders include:

  • the definition of “disability” is interpreted broadly in favor of expansive coverage
  • A determination of disability must ignore the positive effects of any mitigating measure that is used. For example, if someone uses a hearing aid or has a cochlear implant, the benefits of such a device would not be considered when determining if the impairment is a disability under the ADA.
  • The ADA does not require an applicant to disclose a hearing disability before accepting an offer of employment. A person with a hearing condition may request an accommodation after becoming an employee even if they did not do so when applying for the job or after receiving the job offer.

Use the link above or click here to review the Guidance, including 18 Q & A, 23 mini-case studies, and more.