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Workplace Adjustment: Noise-Canceling Headphones


A young person sits at their laptop with noise-cancelling headphones on. They are working at a white computer against a light blue wall. A white lamp features in the left corner, shining a light on their workspace.

What is it?


Noise-canceling headsets and headphones use a combination of passive soundproofing and active noise control to reduce exposure to unwanted background noise and improve the signal-to-noise ratio when listening to music or another sound source through the headset.


How does it help?


Individuals with auditory, cognitive, sensory, and learning impairments may have difficulty working around loud, persistent, and even quiet ambient sounds in the workplace. Most traditional workplaces ban the use of noise-canceling headphones, believing them to cause distraction. However, many neurodivergent individuals especially find noise-canceling headphones improve their concentration at work by blocking out distracting and sometimes painful sounds around them.



Noise-cancelling headphones can help employees with:

ADHD

Attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (AD/HD) is a neurobehavioral disorder that affects three to five percent of American children and adults. The common characteristics of AD/HD are impulsivity, inattention, and/or over-activity.


Noise-canceling headphones can be great for people with ADHD to help reduce distractions by the noise in their environment. For many employees with ADHD, the amount of noise at work can be overwhelming. Having access to noise-canceling headphones helps people focus by having less external sensory stimulation.

Autism Spectrum Disorders

Hyperacusis

Misophonia

Noise sensitivity

Phonophobia


 

Looking for more detailed information on workplace adjustments?


The Job Accommodation Network (JAN) is the leading source of free, expert, and confidential guidance on job accommodations and disability employment issues. Serving customers across the United States and around the world for more than 35 years, JAN provides free practical guidance and technical assistance on job accommodation solutions, and self-employment and entrepreneurship options for people with disabilities.


 

Do you want to be a more inclusive and accessible employer?


Take this 15-minute Disability Inclusive Employer Self-Assessment to gain a deeper understanding of where you’re doing well and where there’s room to improve.


Open Door Group and Presidents Group collaborated on this tool, created from recent international research on practices that truly increase inclusion and retention of people with disabilities in the workplace.


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