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Culture in the workplace for the Deaf

Lets highlight the different communication needs between Deaf and hearing people and provide resolutions to ensure effective communication at all times.

Deaf awareness training

For colleagues and employers working alongside Deaf and hard of hearing (HoH) individuals, this would be a considerable step towards reducing any conflict in the workplace. It would help to highlight the different communication needs between Deaf and hearing people and provide resolutions to ensure effective communication at all times 

The concept of effective communication is an interesting point. What is considered ‘effective’?, and it is important to higlight that what is considered effective for the mainstream community may not be so effective for the HoH/Deaf community. For example, some line managers’ insist to use the telephone more than email. HoH /Deaf people find email correspondence particularly useful because it is visual and gives them a chance to express their emotions, feelings, and anxieties to their hearing colleagues. Moreover, body language and lip movements are really important when communicating with HoH / Deaf people, and conversations over the phone do not include these elements. The introduction of deaf awareness training could be a useful way to reduce stress in the workplace and improve the health, well-being and productivity of employees – based on the social rather than the medical model of disability. 

Deaf and Disability Career Fair

Deaf and Disability Career Fairs is a good example of how HoH/Deaf people can communicate with mainstream employers to learn about different careers and connect with equal opportunity employers who have the foundations in place to offer their full support. 

There is no need for employers to fear HoH/Deaf and any category of disabilities, or consider approaching specialist organisations for advice. Employers can and should engage with these individuals themselves rather than through experts, who often do not have the insight to understand the true needs of these individuals. The social model of disability recommends employers to engage and work directly with HoH / Deaf, who are ultimately just as capable as hearing employees if the right support is made available. 

Collaboration and learning together

Deafness in the workplace can be a very isolating experience, making it extremely challenging to develop some of the competencies that employers expect their employees to demonstrate. Engagement is a competency in itself. Deaf and disability engagement from both sides of the agenda is an example of demonstrating collaboration and learning from each other. Many HoH/Deaf do not know about human resources’ practices and measures of performance because they are unable to pick up conversations in the workplace and not aware about those things. 

To realise practical insights on the support needs for the HoH / Deaf employers should not fear employing persons with hearing impairments and organization’s staff should undergo basic sign language training and set a sign language day within the five working days in which they communicate in sign language. 

Mwavuna Kazungu


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