DEAF AWARENESS WEEK: Building a more inclusive workplace

Deaf Awareness Week takes place from May 6th-12th with a goal of recognising the challenges facing those who are deaf or have hearing impairments, as well as promoting an understanding of their unique experiences.

In the workplace, employees who are deaf or hard of hearing bring a wealth of talents and perspectives to the table. Yet, communication barriers can sometimes hinder their ability to thrive.

Here we explore practical strategies studios can implement to create a more inclusive environment for employees with hearing impairments by making a few key adjustments and fostering a culture of understanding.

Communication is Key

Here are some ideas on how to bridge the communication gap:

  • Identify Preferred Methods: Every individual’s needs are unique. Talk to your employees and discover their preferred communication methods. This could include sign language interpreters, captioning for meetings and videos, or the use of real-time transcription services.
  • Communication Training: Consider offering basic deaf awareness training to all staff. This can help colleagues understand the different communication styles within the Deaf community and how to best support their fellow employees.
  • Technology Can Help: There are various technological aids available that can make communication smoother. Invest in amplified phones, visual fire alarms, and assistive listening devices to enhance accessibility.

Creating an Accessible Workplace

The physical environment can significantly impact communication and overall wellbeing. Here are some adjustments to consider:

  • Minimise Background Noise: Open office plans can be challenging for those with hearing impairments. Consider designated quiet areas or soundproofing options to minimise background noise.
  • Lighting Matters: Ensure good lighting throughout the office, especially in meeting rooms. This allows for better lipreading and facial expression recognition.
  • Visual Cues: Utilise whiteboards, flipcharts, and visual aids during presentations and meetings. This provides additional context and reinforces spoken information.

Building a Culture of Inclusion

Beyond communication and physical adjustments, fostering a culture of inclusion is crucial. Here are some ways to achieve this:

  • Promote Open Communication: Encourage employees who are deaf or hard of hearing to openly express their needs and preferences.
  • Deaf Awareness Initiatives: Organise workshops or events to raise awareness about deafness and hearing loss. This can help break down stereotypes and create a more understanding environment.
  • Mentorship Programmes: Pair new employees who are deaf or hard of hearing with experienced colleagues who can provide guidance and support.

The support organisation RNID has some key resources, advice and information for companies looking for additional support for themselves and their employees.

You can find it here.

You can also find out more about Disability & Neurodiversity in the workplace by reading our guide here.

Photo by GN Group on Unsplash

Register or log in to get started in your organisation

Get our EDI news and guides straight to your inbox

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Login or Sign Up

You'll need an Empower Up members account to access this awesome content.

Our members get free access to:

Don't have an account? Sign up