Is Your Company's Training Accessible to the Hard of Hearing?

 

Many workplaces still aren't inclusive to the hard of hearing. Ensuring yours isn't among them starts with your onboarding process.   

We all know that unhappy employees produce lower quality work and have a higher rate of turnover. Even in the face of that, many businesses do not account for inclusivity in the workplace. As a result, hard-of-hearing (HoH) employees often feel uncomfortable or alienated. 

This is not an issue that can be addressed overnight. It requires a cultural shift starting at the top and including processes and policies across the organization. That shift needs a strong foundation — which begins with adjusting your onboarding and training.

There are several ways human resources and management departments can smooth the hiring and training process for hearing-impaired candidates.

 

Start With the Interview

When first arranging an interview with an applicant, ask questions about how the candidate prefers to communicate and their preferred pronouns. Generally, this will prompt a hard-of-hearing individual to request accessibility options like an interpreter. If you're conducting an in-person interview, inform your receptionist or secretary that you're expecting a hard-of-hearing applicant. 

You should also consider inviting any experienced staff who are hard of hearing to participate in the interview process. 

During the interview, make sure you always face the applicant rather than the interpreter. It may also help to provide a written package of information for the prospective employee to look over or link them to relevant portions of your company's website. Use nameplates or tags during the interview, and remember that HoH individuals may need more time to respond to questions. 

Most importantly, if you choose to hire the applicant, alert everyone who will be working with the new employee about how they prefer to communicate, including proper etiquette.

 

Establish Open Communication

Get your new hire involved in their orientation from the beginning. Work with the employee to accommodate them and listen to what they have to say. Most of the time, they'll be able to tell you precisely what kind of accessibility options they need. 

They can also help you develop and continually update your inclusivity strategies.

 

Think About Layout

Subtly include accommodation for employees that require extra support like more expansive walking spaces between cubicles, TVs with closed captioning, and visibility adjustments like braille signage. A HoH employee may appreciate the sound dampening effect of plush carpets and comfortable armchairs. At the very least, the spaces in which you are training your new hire should feature these accommodations. 

If possible, you should also avoid large, open concept designs, as this can create a tangle of confusing sound for the hearing impaired.

 

Examine Your Technology

Tools like voice recognition software and text to speech software can make the hiring process smoother and improve overall workplace communication. Closed captioning is another helpful tool that should be applied in training videos and seminars when possible. It's also important to note that many HoH people tend towards visual learning, so you should adjust your training accordingly.

 

Plan Ahead

During orientation, make sure to provide the employee with clear instructions about what they should do during an emergency. Ask if they've any suggestions as to how you might improve emergency alerts to make them more accessible or easy to access. At the minimum, you should consider email and text alerts. 

You may also leverage a PA system, and you should look into a means of accounting for staff during crises.

 

Remember: Disability Doesn't Mean No Ability


There is no reason that someone who is hard of hearing cannot perform the same duties as their hearing colleagues. All it takes is a few simple adjustments. Start with your onboarding, then build it out from there.

 

Is Your Company's Training Accessible to the Hard of Hearing?

 

Many workplaces still aren't inclusive to the hard of hearing. Ensuring yours isn't among them starts with your onboarding process.   

We all know that unhappy employees produce lower quality work and have a higher rate of turnover. Even in the face of that, many businesses do not account for inclusivity in the workplace. As a result, hard-of-hearing (HoH) employees often feel uncomfortable or alienated. 

This is not an issue that can be addressed overnight. It requires a cultural shift starting at the top and including processes and policies across the organization. That shift needs a strong foundation — which begins with adjusting your onboarding and training.

There are several ways human resources and management departments can smooth the hiring and training process for hearing-impaired candidates.

 

Start With the Interview

When first arranging an interview with an applicant, ask questions about how the candidate prefers to communicate and their preferred pronouns. Generally, this will prompt a hard-of-hearing individual to request accessibility options like an interpreter. If you're conducting an in-person interview, inform your receptionist or secretary that you're expecting a hard-of-hearing applicant. 

You should also consider inviting any experienced staff who are hard of hearing to participate in the interview process. 

During the interview, make sure you always face the applicant rather than the interpreter. It may also help to provide a written package of information for the prospective employee to look over or link them to relevant portions of your company's website. Use nameplates or tags during the interview, and remember that HoH individuals may need more time to respond to questions. 

Most importantly, if you choose to hire the applicant, alert everyone who will be working with the new employee about how they prefer to communicate, including proper etiquette.

 

Establish Open Communication

Get your new hire involved in their orientation from the beginning. Work with the employee to accommodate them and listen to what they have to say. Most of the time, they'll be able to tell you precisely what kind of accessibility options they need. 

They can also help you develop and continually update your inclusivity strategies.

 

Think About Layout

Subtly include accommodation for employees that require extra support like more expansive walking spaces between cubicles, TVs with closed captioning, and visibility adjustments like braille signage. A HoH employee may appreciate the sound dampening effect of plush carpets and comfortable armchairs. At the very least, the spaces in which you are training your new hire should feature these accommodations. 

If possible, you should also avoid large, open concept designs, as this can create a tangle of confusing sound for the hearing impaired.

 

Examine Your Technology

Tools like voice recognition software and text to speech software can make the hiring process smoother and improve overall workplace communication. Closed captioning is another helpful tool that should be applied in training videos and seminars when possible. It's also important to note that many HoH people tend towards visual learning, so you should adjust your training accordingly.

 

Plan Ahead

During orientation, make sure to provide the employee with clear instructions about what they should do during an emergency. Ask if they've any suggestions as to how you might improve emergency alerts to make them more accessible or easy to access. At the minimum, you should consider email and text alerts. 

You may also leverage a PA system, and you should look into a means of accounting for staff during crises.

 

Remember: Disability Doesn't Mean No Ability


There is no reason that someone who is hard of hearing cannot perform the same duties as their hearing colleagues. All it takes is a few simple adjustments. Start with your onboarding, then build it out from there.

 

  

  

  

Do you think you might be suffering from hearing loss? Call or chat today to talk with one of our Hearing Consultants:  

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