Many deaf individuals struggle to feel welcomed and accommodated in the modern workplace. There has been extensive legislation put forward to help increase awareness and inclusion for deaf individuals in the workplace, but many hard-of-hearing individuals still struggle to find a comfortable place to work.
Any employer with over 15 employees is subject to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which includes the deaf community.
According to Gallaudet University’s website, it is estimated that between around 15 out of every 1,000 people in the US are hard of hearing or deaf.
This means that it is likely that at some point your company is very likely to hire, or at least interview, a deaf or hard-of-hearing employee.
Helping to provide all of your employees the resources they need to work safely and effectively is a key responsibility for employers. It is important to have a plan in place for people with disabilities, especially employees who may be hearing impaired.
Providing certain accommodations for these workers can turn your workplace into one that is welcoming to all. Read on to learn more about the most important ways you can accommodate hearing-impaired employees.
Making sure that you are providing written updates and notifications can ensure that all employees are on the same page and receiving important updates at the same time. In addition to this, it is very helpful to have an assigned person in charge of updating hearing-impaired employees of any audio announcements that may come up.
Accommodate Your Training Videos
When you are developing your training content, try to think of ways to make the process approachable for these employees. Adding closed captioning to videos or having a sign language option is an easy way to make training more inclusive.
Having ASL interpreters available can help to make your workplace feel more welcoming. Interpreters are great options if you have a conference, company-wide presentation, or an important client meeting.
ASL is the hearing-impaired’s main mode of communication, so it can help them to feel much more at home when they are able to communicate and receive information the way they are used to doing so.
Meetings are an important part of an employee’s responsibilities and are how they keep up with what is happening around the company and what the main objectives are at that time.
Try to ask employees prior to the meeting how they wish to communicate and how they would feel comfortable contributing. It helps to make sure that meetings are organized and everyone involved has the opportunity to share their thoughts on what is being discussed.
Making sure that there are more than just audio cues set up to notify employees of emergencies is essential for accommodating your hearing-impaired workforce.
Try adopting a buddy system where certain employees have the responsibility of transferring the message in written or ASL form whenever an emergency announcement is being made. To avoid confusion, all employees should receive training on the emergency protocols of your business.
Adopt Assistive Technologies
Modern technology provides some of the best options to help deaf and hard-of hearing employees or interview candidates.
For example, providing caption-assisted phone services an help to make interviews and meetings much more inclusive to deaf employees.
Another great option are video-relay services (VRS) that facilitate communication through American Sign Language and lip reading.
There are plenty of intuitive options available for employers that are able to make the deaf experience in your workplace comfortable and efficient.
In order to create an inclusive workplace that is able to allow employees to be at their best, it is important to accommodate deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals. Follow the steps in this article to foster a welcoming place to work for the deaf community.
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