People who are deaf or hard of hearing use a variety of ways to communicate. Some rely on sign language interpreters; others use assistive listening devices like hearing aids or cochlear implants; and others may rely primarily on written messages. Many can speak even though they cannot hear. The accommodation your company would need to provide would vary depending upon the abilities of the person who is deaf or hard of hearing and on the complexity and nature of the communications that are required.
So your first question is probably: In particular, what kind of accommodations will I have to provide? And how much will it cost? The answer to that question will depend entirely on the accommodation needs of the individual, and the deaf or hard-of-hearing person is your best resource.
Luckily, thanks to modern technology, communication between employers and deaf employees is easier than ever – with e-mail, instant messaging, chat programs, texting and paging. Even the telephone is no longer a barrier because of the ability to use relay services.
What Is Reasonable Accommodation?
An employer has a duty to provide a reasonable accommodation that is effective to remove any workplace barriers. An accommodation is effective if it will provide an individual with a disability with an equal employment opportunity to participate in the application process, attain the same level of performance as co-workers in the same position, and enjoy the benefits and privileges of employment available to all employees. However, a employer is not required to provide accommodations that would result in an undue hardship (i.e., significant difficulty or expense).Where two or more suggested accommodations are effective, primary consideration should be given to the individual’s preference, but the employer may choose the easier or less expensive one to provide.
Reasonable accommodation also includes those accommodations that are necessary to provide an employee with a hearing loss equal access to information communicated in the workplace, the opportunity to participate in employer-sponsored events (e.g., training, meetings, social events, award ceremonies), and the opportunity for professional advancement.
Reasonable accommodation does not require an employer to remove an essential job function (i.e., a fundamental job duty), lower production standards, or excuse violations of conduct rules that are job-related. Additionally, employers are not required to provide employees with personal use items, such as hearing aids or similar devices that are needed both on and off the job.
Even if a particular accommodation would result in undue hardship, however, an employer should not assume that no accommodation is available. He or she must consider whether there is another accommodation that could be provided without undue hardship.If an employer determines that the cost of a reasonable accommodation would cause an undue hardship, he or she should consider whether some or all of the accommodation’s cost can be offset. For example, in some instances, state vocational rehabilitation agencies or disability organizations may be able to provide accommodations at little or no cost to the employer. There are also federal tax credits and deductions to help offset the cost of accommodations,and some states may offer similar incentives.
When an employee requests a reasonable accommodation for a hearing disability and the disability and/or need for accommodation is not obvious, an employer may ask for reasonable documentation showing that the condition is a disability and/or that accommodation is needed.
Source: Questions and Answers about Deafness and Hearing Impairments in the Workplace and the Americans with Disabilities Act, http://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/publications/qa_deafness.cfm
Types of Accommodation
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
Assistive Listening Systems
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.