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:
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
Sound sensitivity — also known as hyperacusis — is common in autistic people. Some noises might make you uncomfortable, especially loud or shrill noises, but many people are sensitive to quieter sounds, too.
While some noises annoy everyone, some autistic people may react very strongly to certain sounds. These noises cause unwanted intrusions that the person can’t ignore.
Hyperacusis can make it difficult to be in shared workspaces due to the vast range of sounds present. Noise cancelling headphones may be helpful for removing discomfort and increasing attention, focus, and relaxation at work.
Hyperacusis describes physical discomfort or pain when any sound reaches a certain level of loudness that would be tolerable for most people. Hyperacusis can make it difficult to be in shared workspaces due to the vast range of sounds present. Noise cancelling headphones may be helpful for removing discomfort and increasing attention, focus, and relaxation at work.
Misophonia refers to intense emotional reactions to certain sounds (often body sounds such as chewing and sniffing) that are not influenced by the perceived loudness of those sounds.
Noise sensitivity refers to increased reactivity to sounds that may include general discomfort (annoyance or feeling overwhelmed) due to a perceived noisy environment, regardless of its loudness.
Phonophobia describes anticipatory fear of sound. Phonophobia is an emotional response such as anxiety and avoidance of sound due to the “fear” that sound(s) may occur that will cause a comorbid condition to get worse (e.g., tinnitus) or the sound itself will result in discomfort or pain.
Looking for more detailed information on workplace adjustments?
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