Five Simple Ways to Include Deaf Employees in All-Hearing Work Environment
Feeling completely left out at work can be tough for deaf and hard of hearing employees, particularly those who work in an all-hearing environment. Many companies and organizations have one or two deaf and hard of hearing employees working in the same department, and they could quickly feel alone. As a manager or work colleague, you can help your deaf and hard of hearing employees feel included at work and to succeed. Below are several ways you as employer or co-worker can follow to make this happen:
1. Understand the Employee Needs
You generally need to be observant of your work surroundings. That said, stepping out of your comfort zone is essential to help your deaf and hard of hearing employees get a grasp of the work culture. It is particularly even more critical if they work in an all-hearing environment. Also, understanding what the deaf and hard of hearing employees need will help to take a step forward to ensure that they feel like a part of the company or organization. Feeling out of place while at work, can severely affect deaf and hard of hearing employees’ sense of belonging. You will want to avoid this as much as possible. Ask them how you can understand their needs and how you can include them.
2. Be Genuine
It is vital to show that you are genuine about your commitment to understanding how you can best work with deaf and hard of hearing employees. Make sure not to be too quick to judge them, especially if you do not use sign language or is not familiar with deaf and hard of hearing people. Your interest in listening to them makes them feel that you are attentive to them, and you will learn much more from them when you stay engaged with them.
3. Be Responsive
Being a good manager or work colleague, you should be responsive to your employees or co-workers. The same rule applies to managing or working with deaf and hard of hearing employees. They may bring job accommodation issues to you so that they could do their jobs at the best of their abilities. Deaf and hard of hearing employees will see you being responsive when you are committed to providing them reasonable accommodations to their jobs upon request. Reasonable accommodation can include providing sign language interpreters (or another type of accommodation) at all meetings or any other work-related events.
4. Arrange Meetings
You can initiate a conversation with a deaf or hard of hearing employee. Do not be afraid of them. Scheduling meetings can maintain a successful working relationship and talk about their work progress. This arrangement will not only make the deaf and hard of hearing employees feel comfortable with you but will also gain their trust in you. Many deaf and hard of hearing employees are talented and hard workers; tap on their knowledge and skills, and your company or organization overall will succeed.
5. Encourage Stronger Sense of Community
There are many ways for deaf and hard of hearing employees be part of the company or organization to ensure a stronger sense of community. Include them in meetings, events, and important and relevant decisions that the company needs to make. In doing this, it will pave the way for smoother workplace relationships for all employees, including deaf and hard of hearing employees.
As you may see this, it is not that difficult to include deaf and hard of hearing employees in your company or organization, primarily if they work in an all-hearing environment. It only requires your interest, commitment, and a little bit of effort to make sure that they feel included and being part of the company or organization.
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