Deaf Life4th September 2015

What businesses can do to help when it comes to deaf staff members

Making an organisation Deaf-Friendly is progressive and inclusive

by Eain Garner

If you are a business owner, you are probably aware of the fact that employing differently abled people is not only important, but also a highly constructive business practice. When it comes to the deaf - including both profoundly Deaf and Hard of Hearing people - you should be aware that deaf people can perform and even thrive in a regular work environment. They can be valuable assets to your company, given that you are ready to make a few modifications in your organizational infrastructure.

Why it is worth it

Deaf and Hard of Hearing people are no differently qualified from the rest of your employees. In fact, they are found to be more loyal to one organization for a longer time and show greater stability and commitment towards their jobs. Their interests, skills, and potential being at par with the non-deaf, it is unjustified that they often have to face severe workplace discrimination, which can lead to depression and feelings of isolation. 

It is a sign of maturity for you as an employer to ensure that a deaf employee feels just as valued and respected as any other worker. Your basic concern is most understandably whether a deaf staff member can effectively interact with non-deaf staff, and if smooth two-way communication is possible between both parties on a daily basis. The answer to this is yes, and the key to it lies in some basic training and equipment. 

What you can do

The presence of sign language interpreters at meetings and conferences with a large audience will make real-time translation viable when several people are expressing opinions at the same time. Such interpreters also help with drafting written messages, because the sentence structures in sign language are not identical to that of spoken language. With some practice and effort, lip reading or speech reading skills can be inculcated in the Deaf and Hard of Hearing staff to facilitate usual dialogue with hearing staff. Written and visual exchange of thoughts is possible with tools like video phones, text and email at the disposal of deaf personnel. Writing out shorter phrases to communicate is also a plausible short-term option. Visual alerts in devices such as fixed phones, fax machines, smoke detectors, fire alarms and other call-to-action electronics are imperative in order to ensure that deaf employees do not miss important optical cues.

Beacons for the Deaf

A number of people are shining examples of what the deaf can achieve. Dimitra Arapoglou, Greek parliament member; Ashley Fiolek, women’s motocross champion; Claudia L. Gordon, lawyer; Matt Hamill, MMA fighter; Ryan Lane, actor and model; Ted Supalla, researcher and professor; and Osei Morris, professional basketball player, are only a handful of names. They have done more than what an average person would accomplish in his or her lifetime and shows that the deaf can put their disability behind them to become extraordinary performers - a fact to leverage to your firm’s advantage.

Lord Laidlaw’s business expertise can be beneficial if you are looking to create changes for benefit. He sold his company, the Institute of International Research, in order to commence a charitable programme, and has been benevolent with providing assistance in such areas. Find out more about it at Lord Laidlaw sells events firm.

Progressive steps and an inclusive attitude towards deaf employees will undeniably catapult your firm to greater heights, reflecting well on your persona as a reliable employer and your company’s as one with a conscience.

Article by Eain Garner

posted in Community / Deaf Life

4th September 2015