Supporting Effective Communication for Hard-of-Hearing and Deaf Individuals

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Clear and efficient communication is essential for everyone in any workplace or classroom, as it lays the foundation for understanding, collaboration, and inclusion. For deaf/HH employees and students, it’s especially important because clear communication facilitates equal access to information and fosters a sense of belonging within their professional and academic environments. Here, we’ve assembled a handful of resources that can help you ensure that deaf/HH individuals can fully participate, contribute, and thrive in their educational and professional pursuits.

A woman provides CART service on a call.

Communicating with Deaf Individuals

The National Deaf Center (NDC) provides a brief but clear overview on the day-to-day experience of being deaf/HH in their article, Communicating with Deaf Individuals, in addition to direct tips for communicating. The former in particular adds helpful context to approaching how to communicate best in any circumstance. This article emphasizes that communication is achievable in all circumstances, including when accommodations are not available.

Effective Communication

For further detail on the ADA’s requirements, see their article entitled Effective Communication on their website. The webpage covers disabilities beyond deafness and HH, but the principles therein can be applied to anyone. It includes guidance on aids and services, provisions, limitations, and staff training.

Communicating on the Job

AccessATE partner DeafTEC’s Communicating on the Job is a handy go-to for employers of deaf/HH individuals. The helpful list includes advice on structuring inclusive group meetings and trainings, how to ensure deaf/HH employees’ safety, and one-on-one communication. DeafTEC also has a broader Communication page, geared more toward educational settings but with tips that are very much applicable in a work setting as well. This page also includes some related videos with specific examples and anecdotes from deaf/HH students and teachers.

Communication Access Realtime Translation Services

Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART) services are an alternative to sign language interpretation or reliance on assistive listening devices. CART is also sometimes referred to as open captioning or real-time captioning. With a CART service, a trained writer transcribes speech to text which appears on a viewing device for the deaf/HH person or group. The Job Accommodation Network (JAN), offers a handy list of both in-person and remote CART services. (Note: JAN’s website doesn’t enable linking to a specific tab. Information on CART services can be found in the eighth and ninth tabs, entitled CART Services and Cart Services – Remote, respectively.)

Accessibility Tips for a Better Zoom/Virtual Meeting Experience

While many have returned to in-person work in offices and classrooms, virtual meetings and classes are still common. It may seem difficult or intimidating to take steps to make virtual gatherings inclusive, but accommodations for deaf/HH people can be simple and straightforward. Accessibility Tips for a Better Zoom/Virtual Meeting Experience describes these solutions and breaks them into easy-to-understand categories: scope, technology tips, and resources.

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