Posted on Thursday, March 26, 2015

NYPD Lifts Hearing Aid Ban

Hearing loss among police officers and military people who use weapons in their line of work is common. It make sense. Hearing loss can come from exposure to loud noises. These loud sounds destroy the delicate hair cells of the inner ear. Today there are proven ways to compensate for this deficit through the use of sophisticated hearing technologies. So why would any NYPD officer be banned from using a hearing aid while serving?

For years NYPD required that those applying to be a police officers pass a hearing test without the use of hearing aids. This rule--which is still in effect--has kept qualified candidates, such as former military men, from being able to work for the NYPD. This discrimination didn't just impact those applying for a job, but even those who are already worked on the police. Police officers who worked in the NYPD were forced to retire or leave if it was known they required a hearing aid--which many do as it is a common occupational hazard. The city does not test hearing of officers already working there, so as long as they don't use hearing aids they will not be found out and forced to retire.

It seems hard to believe that an institution whose profession causes hearing loss, would ban the use of technology that helps correct the condition, especially when the ban obviously puts the officers and the public in danger. The reason given by officials was that a hearing aid could be knocked off during a scuffle with an assailant. This makes little sense as so can eyeglasses which are allowed to be used. The case against the city's hearing aid ban was begun five years ago by two officers, Dan Carione and Sgt. Jim Phillips. They filed the complain with the EEOC (Equal Opportunity Employment Commission) on the grounds that they were being discriminated against and for a condition that was a direct result of their fulfilling their obligations. The case that began in 2011 ended recently with a settlement that lifted the ban on hearing aids.

According to a comprehensive article on the subject at Hearing Health Matters, "Under the settlement, Judge Failla said, Carione, now 48, who had been forced into disability retirement five years ago after he began wearing a hearing aid, would be reinstated to active duty if he could pass a hearing test, using the aid."

The easing of restrictions on the use of hearing aids will not only benefit those who brought the case, but the many police officers who have admitted to having hearing loss, indeed needing hearing aids, but not using them while on duty. Those applying to become an NYPD officer aren't so lucky. The discriminatory rule that requires candidates to pass a hearing test without the use of a hearing aid still applies to those individuals, though it also being challenged.

If you'd like to learn more about how hearing aids can make your work easier, see your hearing health provider. If you need help finding a hearing health provider click HERE to be connected with the largest network of trusted hearing health professionals in the nation!


Hearing Health Matters. "NYPD Settles Suit by Lifting Ban on Cops Using Hearing Aids" Hearing Health Matters. taken on March 26. http://hearinghealthmatters.org/hearingnewswatch/2015/nypd-settles-suit-...

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