According to studies, an average person spends about one-third of their lifetime at work. Therefore, it may not come as a surprise that one’s job can greatly effect their mood, relationships and overall lifestyle.
For D/deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals, navigating the workplace can present an extra set of challenges that are often overlooked. In this article, we will be discussing five of the most common difficulties they are met with, along with some helpful services to overcome them.
Discrimination when hiring
About one-third of D/deaf and hard-of-hearing people report that they feel like they have severely limited opportunities when it comes to finding a job, due to their disability. Those feelings certainly seem justified, considering that employment rates for D/deaf and hard of hearing people stand at just 65%, compared to almost 80% for non-disabled individuals. The recruitment process can be a stressful situation for anybody, and this can be significantly more difficult for those with a disability. These scenarios are very rarely set up to accommodate those that have hearing disabilities; phone interviews are not an option, and in-person interviews can be limiting, particularly if there is more than one interviewer.
It is very important that your interviewer is aware of your needs well ahead of the meeting and has taken them into consideration. There are lots of communication support options available and it is important to choose the right one for you. Making arrangements for a speech to text reporter, interpreter or caption device is critical during the interview. All of these options can be financed using Access to Work funding. Keep in mind that these things take time to plan so make sure you plan ahead.
Difficulties in communication
Many organizations still do not offer support for D/deaf or hard-of-hearing people in the workplace, and even when they do, it can often be very limited and may not cater for all the different situations experienced at work. Group meetings can be tough, especially when the conversation is free flowing with many different participants. Impromptu meetings can prove to be even more challenging, since arranging an interpreter at the last minute can be very difficult. For most people, relying solely on lip reading is extremely tiring and can lead to key points being missed. Understandably, many will hesitate to express their opinions in these meetings for fear of talking over somebody or looking silly if they haven’t quite understood the subject matter.
For all professional interactions, it’s important that everyone in the meeting is aware of your disability and it may be useful to set out some simple communication rules to avoid awkward situations. For example, seating people to see their faces clearly, and taking turns to speak rather than interrupting. It is also good to check that there are no background noises from machinery or air conditioning units to try and make the environment as supportive as possible.
Feeling left out
Having a good relationship with colleagues is a very important aspect of one’s job that should not be overlooked. Many D/deaf employees can feel isolated, particularly if their colleagues aren’t making enough of an effort to include them (usually- due to their lack of knowledge of how to best support a conversation with a non-hearing person). Moreover, much workplace communication occurs while people are engaged in another activity and not necessarily looking at one another. If not addressed, this can lead to D/deaf individuals feeling left out of the loop or put in uncomfortable situations by their hearing colleagues, as some might misinterpret their actions as rude or disengaged.
Unfortunately, reports of unfair treatment in the workplace are very often made by D/deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals. Common complaints include being talked down to, getting overlooked in meetings and projects and being talked over and interrupted. Another problem is that oftentimes there is little to no effort being put into creating a more inclusive workplace by having proper accommodations or by educating staff and employers.
Feeling like they must prove themselves constantly
All the aforementioned points usually lead to another problem that D/deaf people face: feeling like they have to work harder to prove themselves. Many fear that their employers and colleagues consider them unintelligent due to their disability. Therefore, in order to avoid that, they overwork themselves, oftentimes without any reward or recognition for their efforts.
These are just some examples of problems that D/deaf people face at their jobs daily. It’s not all doom and gloom though. There is a multitude of ways that these issues can be combated. A list of products, helpful information, and resources will be provided below.
- Google live transcribe: This free-to-use app comes in very handy in one-on-one conversations, as it accurately transcribes what is being said by the speaker. Another cool feature included is being able to add custom words, like your name, and environmental sounds, such as clapping, and getting notified when they are mentioned.
- Microsoft Teams: Microsoft teams is an app widely used by many companies today. One hidden gem in this app is that it can live caption meetings, as long as the speaker is talking close to the microphone and there isn’t too much background noise. This is a great way to make online meetings easier for D/deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals.
- C-print: This service provides live captionists that accurately transcribe meetings, seminars, and classes. One great perk is that the final text isn’t filled with unnecessary verbal clutter, and that many captioners are familiar with the delivered content, so the translations are truer to meaning and nuanced. It should be taken into account that services like these can be difficult to find last minute and can be overly expensive to use on a regular basis. It is an important investment though, especially if there are more than one D/deaf employees in a business.
- Speaksee: Speaksee is an innovative microphone system that accurately transcribes group conversations of up to 9 people. It consists of a microphone that the speaker can attach to the collar of their shirt, which isolates their voice alone and ignores background noise, and the app, on which the instant transcription is displayed. Each microphone is color-coded, so that the user can even distinguish what was said by whom.
Even digital meetings are not a concern, since Speaksee also provides a live captioning service called “Speaksee AutoCaption”. This service can be integrated into all conferencing platforms and is an easy way to transcribe online meetings, seminars, and classes.
If you want to learn more about Speaksee, try out their microphone kit by requesting a quote or start a free trial using AutoCaption, click the link https://speak-see.com/ .