Accommodation applies to workplace, not personal devices

Arbitration board rules expensive hearing aid upgrade for teacher is not the responsibility of her employer
By Lorna Harris
|Canadian Employment Law Today

Since birth, Anju Mootilal had experienced serious hearing problems. In 1995, the board hired her to teach special education students. However, she did not receive any special treatment with regard to a personal hearing aid system at work. As her hearing loss worsened, she compensated by lip reading and sign language and the board installed a volume control box on her home telephone to help her communicate with her pupils’ parents.

In 1997, she used the $400 lifetime benefit provided by her benefits package to buy analog hearing aids. When these wore out in 2002, she decided to try a digital hearing aid system, which improved her hearing and she said significantly improved her ability to do her job.

However, the cost for the digital aids, $3,470, was beyond her means and she returned them to the supplier. In 2004, she was able to afford one new analog hearing aid but continued to use the other one bought in 1997, even though it was now being held together with glue.