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Tips for Employers When Interviewing Deaf Job Candidates

Interviewing deaf and hard of hearing job candidates is a part of a job recruitment process. Fortunately, many resources and strategies will help make it easier for deaf and hard of hearing applicants and employers throughout the entire process.

Research the needs of and resources for deaf and hard of hearing individuals. All employers should review the resources provided by the National Association of the Deaf (NAD) for a start. Beyond providing a review of the Americans with Disabilities act of 1990 and civil rights laws, NAD maintains the NAD Employment Resource Center (NERC) website. Within NERC, a section is provided titled "What Employers Should Know." This excellent website offers a host of valuable resources and labor statistics that can help employers better understand the obstacles deaf and hard of hearing people face, as well as the resources available to assist deaf and hard of hearing employees while also assisting employers in enhancing their own resources to accommodate them best. One of the highlights of this website is a listing of technologies that can aid in interviewing deaf and hard of hearing applicants, including real-time captioning (CART) and video relay interpreting. Employers should review these resources as soon as possible to be better prepared for when a deaf job seeker applies for a position.

Ask. When a job applicant informs a company or organization of any hearing loss, hiring managers or other HR staff should ask the individual their accommodation needs. Will the individual need an American Sign Language interpreter? Should the company have relevant technologies such as the aforementioned CART and video relay interpreting, inform the job applicant of such resources and ask if the applicant would like use of those resources. Additionally, ask for the job applicant's contact preferences (email, texting, etc.). Doing so can quickly help alleviate job interview stress for both job seekers and the management as it will make it easy to prepare for the actual job interview process by relaying information, including the location of the interview, what paperwork the job applicant needs to bring, and the answering of any questions the job applicant may have.

ASL Interpreter. Many people living in the United States live with hearing loss requiring American Sign Language (ASL) to communicate in their professional and personal lives. With this in mind, employers are encouraged to use ASL interpreters during interviews and everyday workplace operations such as meetings. Make sure that the ASL interpreters hired are qualified and certified. Ask the job applicant for a list of their preferred ASL interpreters, if any.

Learn American Sign Language. As an employer or hiring manager, becoming an advanced ASL user can provide an advantage in being able to talk with deaf and hard of hearing employees and interviewees directly without the need to hire ASL interpreters. From the employer's standpoint, effective ASL use will help deaf and hard of hearing employees thrive in a workspace as they can communicate directly with management.

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