Successful workplace accommodations for Deaf and hard-of-hearing employees are a critical component to their success in your organization.
When a D/HH team member joins your company, a plan for accommodations should be discussed upon hiring them. This will help you learn about their preferences for communication, which may vary from setting to setting.
There are clear times when an interpreter is needed, such as trainings, conferences, office holiday parties, or after work functions sponsored by your company. However, it should be simple for any Deaf employee to request an interpreter when they see the need for additional services.
Any organization announcements should be provided in text format and the D/HH individual may request an interpreted conversation for additional clarification. Any videos used throughout the organization must be captioned or have an ASL version available. If the D/HH employee is expected to take or make phone calls, either a phone equipped for video relay calls or one that displays voice-to-text should be provided, depending on their preference.
Access to interpreters throughout the week can also be beneficial to the Deaf employee’s contribution to the company environment. Consider scheduling an interpreter several times a week for an hour or more to allow the Deaf team member time to interact with their colleagues in their native language for informal meetings, collaborate on projects, get questions answered, and establish personal relationships.
In the case of an emergency, many buildings are not set up to properly notify a D/HH individual. Flashing lights should accompany any audio alarms and consider implementing the use of text and email emergency alerts. For emergency announcements made over loudspeaker or intercom, a hearing colleague should confirm the D/HH employee receives the information. All new employees should be walked through evacuation plans with an interpreter during their orientation.
Providing these accommodations can ensure that the D/HH employee success in their position and produce their best possible work to the benefit of the company.