With today’s teens doing Transition Year work experience and internships to gain workplace skills, businesses need specific advice on hearing awareness. Multinationals, small businesses, retailers and corner shops can all make their service hearing-friendly to broaden their current customer bases and reduce unintentional discrimination during their daily operations.
Some everyday tips from deaf people:
- For a deaf person, eye contact equates to your listening properly.
- Ask the person, “Do you lip-read, sign or want to write”?
- Shouting or speaking-up does not help a person lip-read.
- If verbal communication fails, write down what you want to say.
- Try not to cover your mouth, if a deaf person lip-reads.
- Speak clearly and slowly, especially if you’ve a strong accent.
- In a social setting, it’s fine to type your message in a mobile phone.
- Make sure your company is contactable by email and/or text.
- Businesses employing deaf people need text-based communication.
- Provide induction loops on-site to benefit hard-of-hearing people.
- In a business group, place a deaf person for lipreading/visual access.
- For conferences, check if a deaf person prefers captions or signing.
- Talk directly to a person with an interpreter & wait for detail-relay.
- Workplace training videos should be captioned or have a transcript.
- Intercom security: ask if a person wants to text reception on arrival.
- Remote booking systems need email/SMS channels where possible.
A few short tips to make a big difference. Communication and customer service skills are enhanced among employees, while business reputation is improved. Result: sustainable, positive synergies are achieved for both businesses and local communities.
Note: Sound Advice has asked the Minister for Integration about funding to give deaf attendees access to spoken content and dialogue at conferences/seminars.
The reply: “The Department [of Integration] does not provide or fund such services. Under the Disability Act 2005, government departments and public bodies in Ireland have an obligation to make their services accessible. If private companies are providing training or conferences, it is up to them to source the relevant service: sign language or captioning, and build the cost into the project if they cannot secure funding to provide the service.”
– Video: Overcoming Obstacles To Employment (play full-screen for captions)