Deaf and HOH Employees

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This document contains information intended to help the deaf employee get and retain a job; and his employer to get the most benefit from employing him.

Pointers to other relevant Web documents:

What accommodations are needed in the workplace to accommodate a deaf employee?

Deaf individuals do not usually require special equipment to perform job tasks. Communication is the primary concern deaf workers must face with their employers. The employer and deaf employee work out a satisfactory system of one-to-one communication. They may communicate thru speech, speechreading, writing, gestures, signs, or a combo of these. A TTY (telecommunication device for deaf persons) can be used to enable a deaf person to reach someone by phone. Both parties need to have a TTY or use a relay service. Other alternatives are FAX and E-mail.

Contact the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf in your state to obtain a sign language interpreter for communication purposes.

For work situations which require alerting or warning signals, flashing light might be helpful in inexpensively added to a sound system.

(Contributed by Ron Rothenberg at 13 Nov 1989.)

How do you prepare co-workers for a deaf employee?

Most deaf employees appreciate efforts by co-workers to surmount the communication barrier. The 1986-87 Directory of the Career Info Registry of Hearing Impaired Persons in Professional, Technical, and Managerial Occupations identifies some of the possible adjustments:

  • using appropriate gestures
  • including visual cues and written reinforcements in conversations
  • reviewing employee understanding by asking questions requiring descriptive answers
  • choosing quiet environments
  • using visual material in group presentations
  • arranging seating so the HI person can see all members in a small group meeting
  • asking a secretary to take notes during meetings so the HI employee can follow the discussion, respond to questions and know when topics change
  • managing meeting so that questions are repeated for the benefit of the deaf or hard of hearing employee
  • providing interpreters if that is the worker's preference for communication access to training , major group meetings, and other situations requiring extensive communication.

(Contributed by Ron Rothenberg at 13 Nov 1989.)

Relevant sections from the ADA law (USA)



9) The term "reasonable accommodation" may include:

(B) job restructuring, part-time or modified work schedules, reassignment to a vacant position, acquisition or modification of equipment or devices, appropriate adjustment or modifications of examinations, training materials or policies, the provision of qualified readers or interpreters, and other similar accommodations for individuals with disabilities.


(a) No [company with 15 or more employees] shall discriminate against a qualified individual with a disability because of the disability of such individual in regard to job application procedures, the hiring, advancement, or discharge of employees, employee compensation, job training, and other terms, conditions, and privileges of employment.

(b) The term "discriminate" includes:

(1) limiting, segregating, or classifying a job applicant or employee in a way that adversely affects the opportunities or status of such applicant or employee because of the disability of such applicant or employee;

(3) utilizing standards, criteria, or methods of administration
(A) that have the effect of discrimination on the basis of disability

(5)(A) not making reasonable accommodations to the known physical or mental limitations of an otherwise qualified individual with a disability who is an applicant or employee

(Contributed by Lew Golan at 15 Jan 1995.)

See also Rights of Deaf And Hard of Hearing Under the ADA.

How to file a complaint about an ADA violation by an employer or a prospective employer (USA)

To file a complaint against an employer or a prospective employer, contact your nearest EEOC office within 180 days of the alleged discrimination. Look in the telephone book under "U.S. Government" or call the EEOC at 1-800-669-4000 (voice) or 1-800-3302 (TDD).

You must be the person who was allegedly discriminated against to file a Title I complaint. If you wish to file a lawsuit in federal court, you must first receive a "right to sue" letter from the EEOC, which may be requested 180 days after the complaint is filed, and then file suit within 90 days after receiving the "right to sue" letter.

(Contributed by Dana Mulvany at December 1994.)

Handling a rude and inconsidrate boss

Juliet Cooke wrote:
My problem is my boss. In spite of frequent reminders, he is at best forgetful, and worst rude and inconsiderate.

Henry W. Meyerding responded:
I have known several bosses who operated as you describe your boss. All were men who incorporated this kind of behavior into their "authority facade." As such, challenging the behavior challenges their authority.

Don't give this boss a reward for his misconduct by quitting. If you get at loggerheads, make him fire you. There is no reason you need to apologize for your hearing and no legal basis for him to penalize you for things he has done wrong to you.