Deaf There Has Been A Dearth Of Essay

Length: 8 pages Sources: 6 Subject: Careers Type: Essay Paper: #99025107 Related Topics: Deaf Education, Transformative Learning, Americans With Disabilities Act, Active Listening
Excerpt from Essay :


There has been a dearth of literature on the training and development of deaf and hard of hearing employees. This research attempts to highlight gaps in the research and suggest methods of improving deaf awareness in the fields of human resources and organizational development. The Americans With Disabilities Act requires all organizations to make reasonable accommodations to the workplace environment, policy, and procedure for deaf and hard of hearing employees. This applies to employee training and development as well as daily functionality on the job. Because six to nine percent of the population identifies as deaf or hard of hearing, it is critical for organizations to adapt their training and employee development programs to attract and retain deaf employees (Hersh, 2012).

To create effective training and development programs, it is important that human resources managers and staff understand best practices in adapting the workplace and making accommodations. The adaptation of all training and development programs requires respect, personalization, investment in consultation services, and the skillful use of technological tools. Both the design and application of training materials needs to change to properly accommodate the needs of deaf and hard of hearing employees, to fulfill not only the ethical policies of the organization but also the legal requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Review of Literature

Unsurprisingly, the needs of deaf and hard of hearing employees are not being met adequately in spite of the Americans With Disabilities Act stipulations. Haynes & Linden (2012) found that only half of deaf employees surveyed were satisfied with the accommodations being used in the workplace. According to Haynes & Linden (2012), the most common unmet needs were effective communication in groups and lack of co-worker support (p. 408). Common complaints from the deaf community related to perceived human resources and development weaknesses include poorly designed environments, poorly designed training materials, ineffective communication, lack of support from coworkers, and generalized "unmet needs," (Haynes & Linden, 2012). Impatience and being isolated are also among the most common experiences of deaf and hard of hearing trainees (Shaw, 2012).

A small but significant number of deaf employees report training and development methods that were overbearing, intrusive, or controlling (Hersh, 2012). As a result of poorly designed human resources programs, deaf and hard of hearing people suffer from disproportionately high rates of unemployment and are also more likely to work at levels far below their aptitude or ability (Hersh, 2012). Hersh (2012) postulates that anti-discrimination legislation like the Americans With Disabilities Act has not been enforced well enough. This is why it is up to individual organizations to spearhead deaf-friendly working environments, encouraging deaf employees to apply, train, and remain with an organization.

Because organizations are required by law to adapt their workplace environments to support the needs of deaf and hard of hearing employees, some tools are currently being used in training and development programs. The most common adaptive tools currently used include telephone aids, coworker helps, and electronic communications, with the vast majority -- up to 87% -- of all deaf and hard of hearing employees using these adaptations (Haynes & Linden, 2012). Unfortunately, it has also been shown that the adaptive tools and techniques are inconsistently or ineffectively being used; as a result, deaf employees are not receiving proper training leading to low retention and high rates of turnover (Haynes & Linden, 2012). Organizations who lose deaf and hard of hearing personnel may be at a considerable disadvantage (Hersh, 2012). Many organizations risk serious litigation problems. Shaw (2012) details the case of Creative Networks, a company that refused to pay its new deaf recruit Rochelle Duran more than $200 for interpretation services during training sessions. The courts ruled in favor of Duran, and have ruled in favor of the deaf employee in several other cases involving inadequate training accommodations for new recruits (Shaw, 2012).

The literature points to several core training and development needs to suit deaf and hard of hearing recruits and existing employees. The National Association of the Deaf Law and Advocacy Center (n.d.) suggests at a bare minimum, organizations provide interpreters free of charge, offer transcriptions of all meetings and training sessions, clearly outline policies for grievances, using assistive technologies like TTY, installing flashing lights...


Specific needs will vary depending on the nature of the organization and job description. The National Consortium of Interpreter Education Centers (2009) adds that self-advocacy for deaf and hard of hearing employees is critical to the success of training and development. Deaf and hard of hearing employees need to understand how and when to ask for help, and what types of assistive technologies or techniques are available.

Some positions will require adaptations to the work environment itself, in addition to adaptations to training material. This is especially true with regards to safety needs. During training, deaf and hard of hearing personnel need explicit safety instructions, and all equipment must be updated to include flashing lights as well as alarms (Rochester Institute of Technology, 2014). A communication protocol whereby hearing employees look out for deaf and hard of hearing employees during emergencies is also necessary (Rochester Institute of Technology, 2014). Hersh (2012) and the National Consortium of Interpreter Education Centers (2009) also echo the importance of stressing safety during employee training. When training, it is important to prevent visual fatigue by taking frequent breaks, and also to eliminate impatience (ORC, 2009).

Recognizing and respecting deaf culture is a cornerstone of successful training and development programs. The ORC (2009) underscores the importance of expecting the same from all employees, while also providing for the communication needs of deaf and hard of hearing trainees. According to Hersh (2012), culture, language use, and community membership are as important, if not more important, than the audiological aspects of being deaf or hard of hearing. It is important to recognize the inherent value in a diverse workforce in general, and of deaf members of the team specifically. Deaf employees, extend the talent pool, can retrain other valuable deaf and hard of hearing employees, improve public relations and organizational reputation due to recognition of deaf culture, and the attraction of unique talents and approaches to problem solving and communication (Hersh, 2012). To improve employee socialization and promote diversity awareness, wearing name tags and introducing the hearing workforce to deaf and hard of hearing colleagues will help eliminate some of the common problems in retaining top deaf talent (Rochester Institute of Technology, 2014). Because deafness incidence does increase with age, it is important also to recognize the relevance of providing ongoing training and development for persons who are becoming hard of hearing, as well as for those who were deaf from birth. Finally, the literature reveals strengths of organizations that attract and retain deaf and hard of hearing personnel. As Hersh (2012) points out, adapting training and development programs to include deaf and hard of hearing employees "is likely to increase the overall efficiency of the organization," and deaf employees add value to the organization (p. 220).

Implications of the Literature

In many ways, training for deaf and hard of hearing employees will not differ from training of hearing employees. The specific parameters of the job, its official job description, and expected roles of the employee will remain similar. Expectations for all employees to fulfill their job duties and demonstrate competence will be shared among all employees. Being heard of hearing or deaf does not impede one's ability to perform the job. Some positions simply require different modes of communication, whether interaction between colleagues, with clients, or with consumers (Shaw, 2012). The effective training and development of all employees requires systematic learning and socialization, as well as specific skills development methods. The difference between training needs for deaf and hard of hearing employees and training needs for the hearing are related to the methods by which information is communicated rather than in the content or substance of that information (Hersh, 2012).

Technology is a key to improving training and development. One of the most consistent themes in literature on training and development of deaf and hard of hearing employees is that technological adaptations are required, but that they need to be developed in accordance with the role, known and also financially accessible to the employee(s), effective, relevant, and cutting edge. Organizations often have technologies available but do not use then, and some organizations fail to train their human resources staff in how to implement such technologies (Linden, 2012). Essentially, organizations need to train the trainers. Hiring deaf coaches and mentors, even if on a temporary basis for training needs and consultation, may be helpful (ORC, 2009). Ideally, the human resources staff is permanently equipped to address the needs of deaf and hard of hearing employees during training and development sessions. Alternatives to verbal commands may be helpful to some hearing personnel as well as to the deaf and hard of hearing. Therefore,…

Sources Used in Documents:


Haynes, S. & Linden, M. (2012). Workplace accommodations and unmet needs specific to individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing. Disability and Rehabilitation 7(5), 408-415.

Hersh, M. (2012). Deaf people in the workplace. Chapter 10 in Lessons on Profiting from Diversity. Moss, G. (Ed.). Palgrave MacMillan.

National Consortium of Interpreter Education Centers (2009). The case for deaf self-advocacy training. Retrieved online:

National Association of the Deaf Law and Advocacy Center (n.d.). Reasonable Accommodations for Deaf Employees Under the Americans With Disabilities Act. Retrieved online:
ORC (2009). The deaf-friendly workplace: a primer. Retrieved online:
Rochester Institute of Technology (2014). Integrating deaf employees. Retrieved online:

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