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  • Hearing Aids in Agencies and PDs

    See my story below, but I wanted to find out from people on the forum what policies federal, state and local agencies and PDs have towards allowing LEOs to wear a hearing aid and if there are any situations that a LEO cannot wear a hearing aid (i.e. moved to an adminstrative position but maintain their LEO status). I would like to document these policies in my fight to keep my job and secondly to end what I consider discrimination in the workplace. Please let me know the agency and if there is any written policy and how I can obtian a copy.

    Thanks.


    The short version of my story is that I have been employed as an IRS Special Agent since January 2002 when I started training. Prior to training, my hearing ability was tested and it showed normal hearing in both ears. In May 2002 during training, I noticed a ringing in my right ear that I thought would go away – which never did.

    In July 2002 when I reported to my post of duty, I notified my supervisor of the hearing issue and was tested multiple times from 2002 through 2004, which showed hearing loss only in my right ear. In 2004 my worker’s compensation complaint was denied because my hearing loss was deemed sudden hearing loss syndrome and not related to gun fire.

    In 2008, IRS-CI began testing all agents for their hearing ability and if they failed to meet certain audiogram results they were put on restricted duty. I failed to meet the audiogram standards in my right ear and as a result I have been on restricted duty since May 2008. I also have been unable to pass a functional hearing test in my right ear. As a result, I am now facing the prospect of being removed as Special Agent and reassigned to a non law enforcement position which would result in a great hardship to my family and me. Note that throughout my career I have never felt that I had much of a hearing loss and some people have even commented to me that they would be unaware of any hearing issues if I did not bring it up.

    I have seen hearing aid specialist and I am sure I can pass an audiogram with a hearing aid.

  • #2
    I wouldn't see any reason you couldn't work with a hearing aid. They allow people to wear contact lenses and glasses. No difference.
    The early bird may get the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.

    Comment


    • #3
      What is a functional hearing test?

      Good luck, keep the board posted on your progress.

      Originally posted by RS-CI KD View Post
      See my story below, but I wanted to find out from people on the forum what policies federal, state and local agencies and PDs have towards allowing LEOs to wear a hearing aid and if there are any situations that a LEO cannot wear a hearing aid (i.e. moved to an adminstrative position but maintain their LEO status). I would like to document these policies in my fight to keep my job and secondly to end what I consider discrimination in the workplace. Please let me know the agency and if there is any written policy and how I can obtian a copy.

      Thanks.


      The short version of my story is that I have been employed as an IRS Special Agent since January 2002 when I started training. Prior to training, my hearing ability was tested and it showed normal hearing in both ears. In May 2002 during training, I noticed a ringing in my right ear that I thought would go away – which never did.

      In July 2002 when I reported to my post of duty, I notified my supervisor of the hearing issue and was tested multiple times from 2002 through 2004, which showed hearing loss only in my right ear. In 2004 my worker’s compensation complaint was denied because my hearing loss was deemed sudden hearing loss syndrome and not related to gun fire.

      In 2008, IRS-CI began testing all agents for their hearing ability and if they failed to meet certain audiogram results they were put on restricted duty. I failed to meet the audiogram standards in my right ear and as a result I have been on restricted duty since May 2008. I also have been unable to pass a functional hearing test in my right ear. As a result, I am now facing the prospect of being removed as Special Agent and reassigned to a non law enforcement position which would result in a great hardship to my family and me. Note that throughout my career I have never felt that I had much of a hearing loss and some people have even commented to me that they would be unaware of any hearing issues if I did not bring it up.

      I have seen hearing aid specialist and I am sure I can pass an audiogram with a hearing aid.
      "From now until the end of the world, we and it shall be remembered. We few, we Band of Brothers. For he who sheds his blood with me shall be my brother." - William Shakespeare ("King Henry V")

      Comment


      • #4
        Double tap
        Since some people need to be told by notes in crayon .......Don't PM me with without prior permission. If you can't discuss the situation in the open forum ----it must not be that important

        My new word for the day is FOCUS, when someone irritates you tell them to FOCUS

        Comment


        • #5
          To be eligible to be a police officer in Iowa you must meet the standards of the Iowa Law Enforcement Academy. ....Hearing portion below. I know its long...................................but you asked the question.

          Iowa Administrative Code Section 501 (Law Enforcement Officer Standards)

          2.1(10) Meets hearing standards as outlined below.

          a. The person shall have normal hearing in each ear. Hearing is considered normal when, tested by an audiometer, hearing sensitivity thresholds are within 25dB measured at 500Hz, 1000Hz, 2000Hz and 3000Hz averaged together.

          b. If the person does not have normal hearing as described above and any of the following (as recommended by the American Academy of Otolaryngology) conditions exist, a medical specialist’s evaluation (otologic evaluation) is required in order for the candidate to be considered for hire:

          (1) Average hearing level at 500Hz, 1000Hz, 2000Hz, and 3000Hz greater than 25dB, in either ear.

          (2) Difference in average hearing level between the better and poorer ear of:

          1. More than 15dB at 500Hz, 1000Hz, and 2000Hz, or

          2. More than 30dB at 3000Hz, 4000Hz, and 6000Hz.

          (3) History of ear pain; drainage; dizziness; severe persistent tinnitus; sudden, fluctuating, or rapidly progressive hearing loss; or a feeling of fullness or discomfort in one or both ears within the preceding 12 months.

          (4) Cerumen accumulation sufficient to completely obstruct the view of the tympanic membrane or a foreign body in the ear canal.

          (5) Use of a hearing aid.

          c. Functional hearing evaluation required. Issues of reversibility and prognosis should be addressed during the otologic evaluation. The evaluation should consist of directional speech comprehension in noise and speech comprehension in quiet using the High Intensity Noise Test (HINT) or other tests that meet the performance characteristics as outlined in paragraph “d.” Candidates who perform more poorly than the fifth percentile of the normal hearing group under any of the three background noise conditions (noise in front, right, or left) are not eligible for hire. Candidates with quiet thresholds greater than 28dB(A) on the HINT or other tests that meet the performance characteristics as outlined in paragraph “d” are not eligible for hire.

          d. Required performance testing characteristics include the following:

          (1) Testing is available in both headphone and sound field versions.

          (2) The testing has an adequate normal hearing control group.

          (3) The testing is capable of spatial separation between the speech and the noise source.

          (4) The testing uses adaptive testing techniques.

          (5) The testing uses a stationary background noise with the same average level across frequencies as the speech.

          e. Use of a hearing aid. A candidate who uses a hearing aid(s) should be administered the HINT or other tests that meet the performance characteristics as outlined in paragraph “d” to assess speech comprehension ability in noise and quiet. Both tests must be administered by sound field methods rather than headphones. An aided audiogram can be reviewed to evaluate sound detection ability.

          Before functional testing, the examining physician must ensure that the aid(s) has been worn regularly for at least one month, since it takes some practice before an individual obtains the maximum benefit from the hearing aid(s). Furthermore, the examining physician should obtain all records from the audiologist who dispensed the hearing aid(s). The records must include documentation of the fitting program and other hearing aid settings, which are used on a regular basis by the candidate. This information shall be reviewed by the certified audiologist performing the testing procedure to verify that the settings have not been intentionally altered.

          The following protocol must be used. No modifications to the candidate’s hearing aid program or settings should be made prior to or during the performance of this protocol.

          (1) Evaluate whether the hearing aid(s) is working properly. The electroacoustic response characteristics of each hearing aid worn by the candidate should be measured in an appropriate acoustic coupler and test chamber according to ANSI specifications (ANSI 1992 and 1996). The response of the hearing aid(s) should be measured at the four designated input levels with a broadband test signal, as specified in the specifications. All measurements should be printed and retained in the candidate’s records. If the hearing aid(s) is not in proper working condition, no further testing should be performed at that time. The candidate may elect to have the hearing aid(s) repaired or replaced and may return to repeat the protocol. In this event, the entire protocol, including measurements of the electroacoustic response characteristics of the hearing aid(s), should be repeated with the new or repaired hearing aid(s). Hearing aid sales, repairs, and replacements should be from an independent provider other than the provider of the functional assessment services.

          (2) Review the candidate’s regular fitting program and settings. The fitting program and settings should be equivalent to those measured according to subparagraph (1). If they are not equivalent, no further testing should be performed at that time.

          (3) Determine whether the functional gain is both physiologic and appropriate for the candidate’s hearing loss. Unaided and aided binaural sound field thresholds should be measured at 250Hz, 500Hz, 1000Hz, 2000Hz, 3000Hz, 4000Hz, and 6000Hz, using warble tone stimuli presented from a loudspeaker positioned 1 meter in front of the candidate at 0 degrees azimuth. If the functional gain is not physiologic and appropriate, then no further testing should be performed at that time.

          (4) Perform aided sound field HINT or other approved testing in noise and quiet. Compare the results to the site–specific normal values for sound field noise front, noise right, and noise left conditions. If the measured thresholds are better than the fifth percentile under all three conditions, then the noise testing shall be repeated with the background noise fixed at 80dB(A). The same normative values used with the standard background noise levels may be used to assign percentile scores to these results.

          The examining physician may use the evaluation algorithm described in Hearing Guidelines—Abnormal Audiogram, with one exception. Many present–day hearing aids employ methods of sound processing that vary as a function of the background noise level, and it is necessary to measure aided sound field HINT thresholds through a range of background noise levels. Therefore, candidates who use hearing aid(s) should be functionally normal both under standard HINT background noise levels (i.e., 65dB) and at levels that are commonly encountered in the field (80dB).

          The candidate has met the required hiring standards if the candidate has demonstrated acceptable functional ability when wearing a hearing aid(s) and wears a hearing aid(s) when assigned to field duty.
          Since some people need to be told by notes in crayon .......Don't PM me with without prior permission. If you can't discuss the situation in the open forum ----it must not be that important

          My new word for the day is FOCUS, when someone irritates you tell them to FOCUS

          Comment


          • #6
            The problem is, everyone is giving you their state standards, which may vary considerably from the Fed's medical standards.

            Take a look at http://lib.post.ca.gov/Publications/Hearing.pdf

            It explains the implications of hearing loss to law enforcement positions. It also addresses the value (and lack of value) of hearing aids to the job. If anything, it may give you a better picture of your employer's medical logic and help you formulate a stronger defense.
            Going too far is half the pleasure of not getting anywhere

            Comment


            • #7
              I'm sorry. When did we have to employ those who have been medically disqualified? I mean, what is this? There are jobs one can't DO, and if the OP was an 1811 or similar, and his agency won't keep him for a job incurred injury, why should someone else (public) have to pick up the tab?

              I know people want to be touchy feely and not say no, but to aid someone who can't qualify and is already out on a medical with means to "formulate a stronger defense", who are we helping? Not the public who pays for that person for the rest of their career, which may be short when the problem comes up, the hearing aid is torn off in a fight and they can't hear, etc.

              This comes up time and time again. I was medically dq'd, "Oh. Here, try this, and this, and do that and maybe you can get hired"...so they can break again and now WE have to pay for it. Time to stop.

              OP. Make your agency keep you employed. If they find you can't, and change your job title, then take it. I've personally had enough of hearing impaired partners on the street. They are HUGE liability to themselves and me. Not mention the Workmans Comp that will happen down the road.
              Free Deke O'Mally!!!

              Comment


              • #8
                Whats the difference between someone with a hearing aid and someone with glasses. or contacts?

                I have seen Officers that were probably nearly blind without their glasses. I have to say I would rather have a guy who didn't hear so well as opposed to one who was blind in a fight.

                Hearing loss is common in law enforcement. Enough flashbangs and shots fired along with that damn radio squawking in your ear 10 hours a day will do in the best hearing after enough years.

                If the hearing aid brings you up to snuff by your agency's standards whats the problem.
                The early bird may get the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Thanks for the great posts. I think this is an issue that lots of LEOs face.

                  Note that I have been doing my job fine since day one in the field with the hearing impairment and without a hearing aid. I'm sure that I will hear better than a majority of my colleagues with a hearing aid. I work for a very non-enforecment oriented agency (in fact if we are on search warrants with other agencies, we are typically supposed to be on outside cover) and have never felt my hearing ability affected my job performance.

                  I appreciate any policy documentation even if it is lengthy (thanks Iowa #1603) and am looking specifically as to policy's towards officers that suffer hearing loss during the course of career and how it is treated.

                  Take care.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    When I first came to my agency, there was an officer (now retired) who wore hearing aids in both ears. If I recall, his hearing loss occurred while with our agency and after he was hired. He was very capable at doing his job and was a good officer.

                    I dont know if that helps you in current situation, but shows that there are cops out there with hearing aids. And with todays technology, you can find hearing aids that aren't visible, and find a way to keep them in your ear. Wearing a hearing aid doesnt mean having to wear that huge thing on the back of your ear.

                    Speak to your ENT or Audiologist and see what options are available to you. You might be suprised at what can be done. I am losing my hearing due to a condition called Otosclerosis. I'm not to the point of hearing aids but its something I will have to consider eventually. In my case, surgery is also an option (with a decent success rate). So, you have options...get to your ENT and figure out what they are and go from there.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by RS-CI KD View Post
                      See my story below, but I wanted to find out from people on the forum what policies federal, state and local agencies and PDs have towards allowing LEOs to wear a hearing aid and if there are any situations that a LEO cannot wear a hearing aid (i.e. moved to an adminstrative position but maintain their LEO status). I would like to document these policies in my fight to keep my job and secondly to end what I consider discrimination in the workplace. Please let me know the agency and if there is any written policy and how I can obtian a copy.
                      The problem here is that the feds have different standards than local and state agencies. There have been lawsuits on the state and local levels in certain places that have forced agencies to remove ucorrected vision requirements from their hiring standards as long as the applicant has vision correctable to 20/20. While most local agencies no longer have uncorrected vision requirements, that's totally different with the feds and most federal agencies maintain those uncorrected vision requirements. So what policies we may have on our levels really are meaningless when it comes to the federal government. This goes for other things as well. In Florida, it would be unlawful to restrict the entry age of any LE applicant. In federal service, you can't be over 37.

                      Personally, I think you should be speaking to an ADA attorney rather than trying to get information from local agencies that really won't help you in the grand sceme of things since the federal government obviously has different standards across the board.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        One of the guys I work with wears hearing aids. Heck last week one of the guys on my shift had a hearing infection and wore ear plugs for a couple days.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I wear a hearing aid. I have two, but don't like wearing both (I've worn one in the right ear for ... well, almost 12 years now...). I wear one in my right ear, and my ear piece in my left. I've been hearing impaired since birth, which in my opinion is easier than traumatic loss; I've just never known any different.

                          I was hired. I couldn't even wear my hearing aid for the testing because the ancient machine they used pressed right up against my ear and caused feedback.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            It's going to depend on what duties you have and the type of aid you wear. I wear aids in both ears and wouldn't want to take a chance on getting hit in the ear with an aid in it, very painfull. I gave up SWAT and an lot of other duties I enjoyed whenn my hearing went but I stayed in an adimn position for a few years till I retired.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I have worn 2 hearing-aids since I turned 3 years old. I am now 39 and spent 15 years as a Paramedic and 4 as a reserve officer. I can function normally and the only special thing I have to to is keep rain off of them. Granted, once in a while I will have a bit of trouble hearing someone speak or miss a staticy radio call, but no more than anyone else.

                              Oh, and I am "legally deaf" without them.

                              Comment

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