Each person is unique and the accommodations that work for one person don’t necessarily work for another. And most accommodations cost little or no money to implement.. The information below is a summary of the types of accommodations that might be available for use depending on the needs of the deaf or heard-of-hearing individual and the dictates of the workplace.
Computers, Smart Phones and Tablets
Todya's new technologies have really leveled the playing field in terms of communication for deaf and hard-of-hearing people and can facilitate communication in the workplace in a variety of ways.
- Computers, smart phones and tablets with email, text, and chat provide both real-time and asynchronous communication
- C-print is a computer-assisted system for transcribing speech to print. It involves a hearing captionist typing words as they are being spoken and provides a real-time text display that the deaf person can read.
- Speech synthesizers provide synthesized voice output of letters, phonemes, words, or phrases typed on a keyboard.
- Automatic speech recognition transcribes a single person's spoken message, voiced into a microphone, into text displayed on a computer screen.
- Computer-assisted notetaking allows notes and graphics to be typed almost simultaneously and displayed with overhead projectors for all to view.
Telecommunications encompasses a range of communication technologies that involve the use of phone lines.
- The video phone is one of the newest telecommunication devices available for deaf or hard-of-hearing callers that communicate through sign language. A small camera and TV display is needed as well as high speed internet service. The deaf or hard of hearing person is able to sign for themselves in direct communication with other video phone users.
- Video Remote Interpreting (VRI) enables deaf and hearing individuals to access a live remote interpreter using video conferencing technology.
Relay Services that can help deaf and hearing colleagues communicate over the telephone by providing a simultaneous, three-way communication among a deaf person, a communication assistant (CA) and another person.
- With a telephone relay, the deaf or hard of hearing caller dials into the relay service and provides the phone number they wish to call. The relay operator dials the number and explains the relay service and how to use it. Once the two parties are connected, the operator will voice all of the text messages for the hearing person and convert all of their verbal replies into text for the deaf or hard of hearing caller. This process also works in reverse when a hearing person wants to contact a deaf or hard of hearing person.The on-line communication assistant voices to the hearing caller and types to the deaf caller.
With Video Relay Server (VRS) the video relay caller uses a webcam or video to sign to a voice interpreter and the interpreter voices to the hearing telephone user and interprets the message back to the deaf caller.
Assistive Listening Systems
Assistive LIstening Systems are helpful for people who are hard-of-hearing and have difficulty hearing in large groups, at a distance, or in noisy environments.
- A telephone amplifier enables some deaf and hard-of-hearing people to use the telephone by increasing the volume of the phone.
- An induction loop is a wire circling a given area connected to an amplifier and the speaker's microphone. These are often used in meeting and presentation rooms.
- An FM system has a microphone/transmitter and a receiver that allows the listener to use a headset, earphone, or hearing aid which pick up the sound directly from the transmitter.
- An infrared system uses an emitter and a special receiver headset that picks up "infrared" light containing sound signals that are then directed into the ear.
Captioning is a process of converting the audio portion (dialogue and sounds) of a video production into text. Typically, this text is displayed across the bottom of the screen over a black background. One form of captioning is real time captioning. This can occur during a live event or large meeting. Usually while a camera films the people who talk, a captionist types the words into a computer which displays the speakers’ words across the bottom of a video screen. A captionist is much like a stenographer who may or may not actually be at the event or in the meeting. If the captionist is in another location, the captionist hears the spoken words via telephone and types and transmits the text back on another phone line where it is converted into words which are fed to the video screen.
Environmental Accommodations may include physical plant adjustments that improve visibility, reduce distracting noises and improve safety. Some such adjustments might be:
- Changing/adding lighting to enhance visibility.
- Blocking out extraneous noise to eliminate disturbances.
- Posting directional and safety signs as well as room numbers.
- Adding vision panels to doors and walls to improve lines of sight.
- Using round or oval tables for group discussions.
- Installing convex mirrors to allow pedestrians to see what's coming down hidden corridors.
Sign language interpreters facilitate communication between hearing people who use a spoken language and deaf or hard-of-hearing people who use sign language. Some deaf or hard-of-hearing people benefit from having a sign language interpreter present during employment interviews, orientations and large meetings. To find sign language interpreters in your area, see the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf
Source: National Technical Institute for the Deaf National Center on Employment at: http://www.ntid.rit.edu/nce .For more information on current technologies, see the resources at the National Association for the Deaf at http://www.nad.org/issues/technology. For more information on accommodations, see the resources available on the Job Accommodation Network (JAN) website at.http://askjan.org/media/Hearing.html#acc. JAN is a free service of the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Disability Employment Policy.