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Many people who are deaf or hard-of-hearing do not feel welcome in the American workplace, despite legislation to encourage employment, strong popular support for the use of sign language and large investments in accessible post-secondary education for students who are deaf, a sign language interpreter told
Sarah Morgan, an interpreter for the National Reconnaissance Office, the federal agency in charge of America’s intelligence satellites, offered simple tips for making the workplace more friendly for individuals who are deaf and hard-of-hearing. For instance, she said, a speaker should never turn his or her back to the audience while writing on a blackboard, and co-workers should address their remarks directly to the person with the hearing difficulty, rather than to the person’s sign-language interpreter.
Morgan gave a presentation titled “Hiring and Managing Deaf and Hard of Hearing People,” in October at the Society for Human Resource Management’s Diversity & Inclusion Conference & Exposition, which was held in Boston.She conducted a separate interview with
SHRM Online in November.
“Deaf people experience inclusion through reasonable accommodations, overcoming communication barriers, and [by] ensuring visual accessibility and safety,” Morgan said.
When setting up an interview with a job applicant who is deaf, Morgan said, consider these accommodations:
Suggestions for Workplace Inclusion
These are the things managers must think about when conducting meetings that include employees who are deaf, Morgan said:
Emergencies require special considerations for employees who are deaf, Morgan said. Among her suggestions:
Dana Wilkie is an online editor/manager for SHRM.
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