- Hire new people with hearing loss and other significant disabilities by July 26, 2016 who:
- Receive Vocational Rehabilitation (VR), Ticket to Work, Veterans Affairs (VA) Vocational Rehabilitation & Employment, or American Job Center services.
- Receive special education services in high school or disability-related services in college;
- Take part in the Workforce Recruitment Program;
- Work in sheltered workshops or other community rehabilitation programs; and/or
- Receive services from Centers for Independent Living.
- Get a commitment from top company leadership. Hold a disability awareness event where the CEO or other senior managers speak openly about their commitment to recruiting hiring, retaining, and promoting people with disabilities. Bring in workers from local hearing loss organizations to share their workplace experiences.
- Host a disability mentoring day at your company. Work with local schools, disability organizations, and VR providers to help plan the event. Encourage senior leadership to get involved.
- Connect with local HLAA (Hearing Loss Association of America), ALDA (Association of Late-Deafened Adults), NAD (National Association of the Deaf) chapters, deaf services centers and commissions, and other disability advocacy organizations. Let them know your business needs and goals. Find out ways they can help implement or improve your disability employment program.
- Partner with a local sheltered workshop or community rehabilitation program, independent living center, Vocational Rehabilitation agency, Veterans Affairs (VA) Vocational Rehabilitation & Employment program office, Employment Network, disability advocacy organization, high school special education program, and/or college disability student center for upcoming hiring needs. Let them know what jobs you have and find out how these partners can help you to recruit qualified job seekers with disabilities.
Finding and Recruiting Qualified Applicants with Hearing Loss and Other Disabilities
- Make sure your online job application process is accessible for people with disabilities.
- Develop paid internship, apprenticeship, and/or on-the-job training programs for individuals with disabilities.
- Invest in the future. Keep the resumes of people with disabilities who you don’t hire. Reconsider those candidates for the next opening and share their resumes with your colleagues.
Respecting, Retaining, and Promoting People with Hearing Loss and Other Disabilities
- Start or expand an employee resource group for employees with disabilities.
- Start a reverse or reciprocal mentoring program. Connect senior leadership with employees with disabilities to learn about and from each other.
- Develop and implement a mentoring program for employees with disabilities. Integrate this program into existing diversity mentoring programs.
Change Your Workplace’s Culture
- Stress the value you place on people with disabilities as employees and customers. Ensure that people with disabilities are included in your overall diversity strategy. Publicize this information on your external website, social media, and other company materials.
- Challenge stereotypes and change workplace culture by profiling senior staff members and managers who are people with disabilities. Doing so will create a workplace where employees with disabilities feel confident, open, and proud of who they are and what they contribute to your company’s bottom line.
- Educate and train human resource professionals, talent acquisition staff, and supervisory staff on recruiting, hiring, retaining, and promoting people with disabilities. Integrate trainings with existing employee and management staff development programs.
- Utilize services offered by the Job Accommodation Network (JAN) and the Employee Assistance Resource Network (EARN). Both JAN and EARN provide free customized training and consultation services for employers.
- Develop and implement a reasonable accommodations process.
- Create a centralized fund for reasonable accommodation, which will allow supervisors to make determinations regarding accommodations without regard to budgetary impact.
- Train supervisors and human resource professionals on the benefits of using publicly-funded supported employment services, such as job coaches.
- Develop a tailored on-boarding program for new employees with disabilities that includes information on topics such as reasonable accommodation procedures and orientation materials that are in accessible formats.
- Ensure employee training and professional development programs – onsite and online – are inclusive of people with disabilities. Make sure these programs are accessible and that reasonable accommodations will be provided if needed.
- Train Employee Assistance Program (EAP) staff to assist employees with disabilities and parents of children with disabilities in navigating work incentives planning, Medicaid, and other disability related services.
Change the Employment Landscape for People with Hearing Loss and Other Disabilities
- Mentor and learn from other companies about how to recruit hire, retain, and promote people with disabilities. Reach out to subject matter experts for ways to make your workplace hearing-friendly and welcoming to people of diverse abilities.
- Leverage your procurement process to give preference to disability-owned businesses.
- Find out if your business contracts with sheltered workshops or other community rehabilitation programs paying subminimum wage. If they are, move those employees in-house and pay them comparable wages. Work with the organization to develop other competitive integrated employment opportunities.
- Set and achieve measurable goals. Track and share your success with other businesses, industry liaison groups, disability advocates, and your local newspaper.
Adapted from 2015 White House Summit on Disability Employment held earlier this year
For workplace hearing loss awareness training assistance, please reach out to ACS Business Development Manager Valerie Stafford-Mallis. Valerie@acscaptions.com Training can be developed that meets the needs of your particular workplace and is available at no charge.
Back-to-school is an exciting time of year for most children. But not for all, especially not for the child who is having trouble hearing. Is your child, or your student, not hearing well enough in the classroom to perform up to his or her full potential?
There is a world of assistive services and technology that can make the spoken word accessible to the student who is D/deaf, hard of hearing, or deaf-blind. Things such as personal FM systems, CART or text-interpreting, and sign language interpreting are more readily available now than ever before. The National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities (NICHCY) offers brief but detailed fact sheets on Deafness and Hearing Loss. Click here to download.
Would you like to learn more about how assistive listening devices, speech-to-text transcription, and/or sign language interpreting services might benefit your child or your student? Click here to download this free paper Accommodating Students with Hearing Loss from the Job Accommodation Network.
Are you confused about how to go about getting your child or your student the help they need? If they attend public school, their accommodations must be specified in their Individualized Education Plan (IEP). Many parents and teachers find the process overwhelming and confusing. The National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities has excellent materials on the IEP process and the components of an IEP. Click here to read it.
Recent guidance from the Department of Justice regarding the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) advises that students who attend private schools are entitled to effective communication and equal access to educational programs and services, even if their school is not a part of a public school system. Or, even if it is, the ADA may entitle them to accommodations not covered in an IEP. Confused? Click here to read Frequently Asked Questions on Effective Communication for Students with Hearing, Vision, or Speech Disabilities in Public Elementary and Secondary Schools | PDF
As students who are deaf or hard of hearing head off to school, some parents and teachers may wonder if CART (Communication Access Realtime Translation) would help. For people whose first language is ASL, a sign language interpreter may be best. For people who read English, especially for people with certain learning disabilities and people for whom English is a second language, CART may be right. CART is an approved accommodation under the ADA as long as it facitlitates effective communication for the person using it. Would you like to learn more about verbatim speech-to-text transcription (also known as CART, Communication Access Realtime Translation) in the classroom? For an excellent paper from the National Court Reporter’s Association about CART in the Classroom, please click here Other students benefit from a meaning-for-meaning text interpretation of what is said as opposed to a word-for-word transcript. Click here for more information on Text Interpreting.
Contact ACS today Valerie@acscaptions.com and let us help you support students who are deaf and hard of hearing, their families, and their schools.
Are you going to the hospital or the doctor’s office? Are you apprehensive about being able to communicate with your healthcare providers? Would you like to know what you can do ahead of time to set the stage for more effective communication when it really counts? Tune in to this free and exciting webinar this coming Wednesday, August 19 at 8:00 PM ET to learn more.
Join us on Wednesday evening for a free captioned webinar featuring ACS Business Development Manager and HLAA Board of Trustees Vice-Chair Valerie Stafford-Mallis, who will be presenting What a Person with Hearing Loss Needs to Know Before a Medical Encounter. Webinars are offered for free by HLAA, the largest consumer organization for people with hearing loss in the world.
The Hearing Loss Association of America does SO much to help open the world of communication to people with hearing loss. The ACS exhibit at HLAA’s Convention 2015 in St. Louis MO June 25-28 was the place to learn more about CART captioning, text-interpreting, post production captioning, broadcast captioning and why ACS is the Alternative. I would like to thank everyone who stopped by to chat with me at the exhibit
There were so many fun things to see and do at Convention. I have shared just a few highlights, but as you can tell from the smiles on the happy faces, a good time was had by all. If you would like to learn more about how ACS can help you at work, in school, or in your business, please reach out to me…I would love to hear from you! Valerie@acscaptions.com
The top 3 concerns employers have when considering workers with hearing loss are: communication, safety, and the cost of accommodations that facilitate communication and keep workers safe. Today we are going to talk about safety considerations.
First of all, safety considerations don’t necessarily cost an arm and a leg. Many of them, such as developing a plan to keep ALL workers safe in the event of an emergency, really don’t cost anything. The Office of Disability Employment (ODEP) and OSHA provide guidance on emergency preparedness for persons with disabilities, including hearing loss. The ODEP suggests 3 essential phases to emergency and safety planning:
- Plan Development
- Plan Implementation
- Plan Maintenance
Plan development involves identifying the potential hazards a worker with hearing loss faces. Workers with hearing loss should be involved every step of the way and after-hours situations should be considered along with situations that might occur during normal business hours. Consult with local fire, police, and emergency departments, as well as local deaf and hard-of-hearing groups to get an accurate picture of safety considerations. Alerting and emergency notification are key issues for persons with hearing loss. The good news is the market place offers a plethora of signaling and alerting devices at all price points.
Plan implementation involves distributing the plan to all employees and integrating the plan into standard operating procedure. Do not forget to provide communication access (Captions, sign language interpreters, or assistive listening systems) to employees with hearing loss taking the training. Drills, both scheduled and unscheduled, should be a prime reinforcement to any learning that takes place during the implementation process. Some alerting device options include
- Warning signs that flash when an audible emergency alarm sounds
- Strategically places strobe lights or vibrating alerting devices places near workers with hearing loss
- Vibrating pagers, watches, or other type of alarm worn by workers
- Text messaging devices
- Service animals trained to alert to obstacles, alarms, and other environmental hazards
- Instant Messaging IM or email popups
- Amplified telephone ring signaler with flashing lights
Plan maintenance involves reviewing and modifying plans after safety drills, orienting new personnel, identifying new safety concerns and addressing them, ensuring equipment is in good repair and operational at all time.
For more information about customizing worksite emergency preparedness for workers who have hearing loss, please consult OSHA Safety and Health Information Bulletin 07-22-2005 Innovative workplace Safety Accommodations for Hearing-Impaired Workers.
For more information about customized training tools and accommodations that will make sure the material is understood by persons with hearing loss, please reach out to Valerie Stafford-Mallis at Alternative Communication Services (ACS) LLC: Valerie@acscaptions.com
Did you know that 30% of full-time employed Americans suspect they have an unaddressed hearing problem? According to new research sponsored by EPIC Hearing Healthcare (EPIC), almost one-third (30 percent) of employees suspect they have a hearing problem, but have not sought treatment.
Source: Online employee survey conducted by Wakefield Research on behalf of EPIC Hearing Healthcare between November 22 and December 13, 2013, among 1,500 nationally representative full-time employed Americans 18+, including oversamples of subaudiences of up to 101 Hispanics, 110 African-Americans, 100 Asian-Americans, 169 teachers and 100 law enforcement professionals (all employed full-time).
CART (Communication Access Realtime Translation) makes the spoken word more accessible on the job to workers with hearing loss. Face-to-face and virtual conversations could be captioned in real-time for workers in meetings, conference calls, conferences, trainings, and webinars.
Among the full-time employed Americans who suspect they have a hearing problem, but who have not addressed it, the following on-the-job impacts of their hearing loss are reported:
- I often ask people to repeat what they have said 61%
- I strain to understand a conversation when there is background noise or other people are talking at the same time 57%
- I often misunderstand what is being said 42%
- I sometimes pretend to hear when I can’t 40%
- I have a hard time hearing over the phone 37%
- I frequently feel stressed or tired after having to talk or listen for extended periods 22%
- Any of these 95%
- None of these 5%
Source: Online employee survey conducted by Wakefield Research on behalf of EPIC Hearing Healthcare between November 22 andDecember 13, 2013, among 1,500 nationally representative full-time employed Americans 18+, including oversamples of subaudiences of up to 101 Hispanics, 110 African-Americans, 100 Asian-Americans, 169 teachers and 100 law enforcement professionals (all employed full-time).
“All of these impacts of untreated hearing loss are likely taking a serious toll on employee productivity and the potential for more costly errors or missed opportunities when key information is missed,” said Brad Volkmer, president and CEO of EPIC Hearing Healthcare. “Strain from untreated hearing loss can not only negatively influence an employee’s work product, it can also take a further toll on the employee’s health and well-being by causing excessive anxiety and stress, even contributing to depression.”
According to the Better Hearing Institute, studies have linked untreated hearing loss to:
- Irritability, negativism and anger
- Avoidance or withdrawal from social situations
- Social rejection and loneliness
- Reduced alertness and increased risk to personal safety
- Impaired memory and ability to learn new tasks
- Diminished psychological and overall health
SOURCE: Hearingpedia. (n.d.). Consequences of Hearing Loss. Retrieved from Better Hearing Institute website on January 23, 2014
Let Alternative Communication Services (ACS) show you how the communication access and better hearing support provided by CART captions can help reduce or eliminate hearing loss’ impact during challenging workplace listening scenarios such as group meetings, conference calls, webinars, and trainings. For more information, please email Valerie@acscaptions.com
May is Better Speech and Hearing Month. As part of its outreach for Better Hearing and Speech Month, the Better Hearing Institute (BHI) is providing this list of 10 things you should know about how hearing loss can affect other aspects of your health:
1. Hearing loss is tied to depression. Hearing loss has been associated with an increased risk of depression in adults of all ages.
2. Hearing loss and dementia are linked. A Johns Hopkins study of older adults found that hearing loss actually accelerates brain function decline. Some experts believe that hearing aids could potentially delay or prevent dementia.
3. Hearing loss is more common in people with diabetes. Studies show that people with diabetes are twice as likely to have hearing loss.
4. Hearing health and heart health are linked. Some experts say the inner ear is so sensitive to blood flow that abnormalities in the cardiovascular system could be noted here earlier than in other less sensitive parts of the body.
5. Fitness may help your hearing. Higher levels of physical activity have been associated with a lower risk of hearing loss.
6. Hearing loss may put you at risk of falling. Studies show that people (aged 40 to 69) with even mild hearing loss are more likely to have a history of falling.
7. Hospitalization may be more likely for those with hearing loss.
8. The risk of dying may be higher for older men with hearing loss. Men with hearing loss were found to have an increased risk of mortality, but hearing aids made a difference.
9. Common pain relievers may cause hearing loss. Regular use of aspirin, NSAIDs, or acetaminophen has been associated with an increased risk of hearing loss.
10. Kidney disease is linked to hearing loss. Research has shown moderate chronic kidney disease to be associated with an increased risk of hearing loss.
The Better Hearing Institute (www.betterhearing.org) reports that recognizing and treating hearing loss may help more than just your hearing. BHI is working to raise awareness of the link between hearing loss and other important health issues. As part of its awareness and outreach efforts, BHI is encouraging adults of all ages to take the free, quick, and confidential online hearing check on its website. http://www.betterhearing.org/check-your-hearing Anyone can take the online survey to determine if a comprehensive hearing test by a hearing health professional is needed as a next step.
More details on these findings, along with other hearing health information, is available on the Better Hearing Institute website www.betterhearing.org
Many people inquire as to how they can reach an individual who is deaf or hard of hearing by telephone. This includes the question of how to make a call using Telecommunications Relay Service (TRS). A relay call allows individuals who cannot hear or who may have other disabilities that may prevent them from using a standard telephone to place and receive calls. The call is placed to communication assistants (CA’s), who help to facilitate the calls. TRS is available in all 50 states as well as the U.S. territories. Also, there is no cost for an individual to use this service.
Types of Relay Calls
First, let’s look at all of the different ways an individual who is deaf or hard of hearing can place a call. There are many types or forms of TRS that an individual can use. They include Text-to-Voice teletypewriter (TTY) based TRS, Voice Carry Over, Speech-to-Speech Relay Services, Captioned Telephone Services, Internet Protocol (IP) Relay, IP Captioned Telephone Service, and Video Relay Services (VRS). Each TRS offers the user different ways to communicate.
- Text-to-Voice TTY-based TRS is the most common and probably what most people think of when they hear that someone is using relay. An individual places a call to a CA using a TTY and the CA places a regular voice call. The CA then facilitates communication by voicing what the individual using the TTY is typing and typing back what the person on the other line is voicing.
- Voice Carry Over allows individuals who have a hearing impairment, but can use their voice, to place a call. The individual uses his/her voice so is not required to type and receives responses from the other person in text via the CA. Hearing Carry Over works in reverse. If an individual has speech impairment, the individual can use his/her own hearing to listen to another person and then type his/her part of the conversation, which the CA then relays to the other party.
- Speech-to-Speech Relay Services allow individuals with speech impairments to place calls. A specially trained CA repeats what the caller is saying so that the caller’s words are clear and can be understood by the party that was called. This type of TRS does not require any special equipment.
- Captioned Telephone Services are used by individuals who have some residual hearing and may also want to use their voice. The telephone has a special screen, which displays the captions (or text) of what the other person is saying. Callers can still use their voice and whatever residual hearing they may have while also reading the text on the screen, which allows them to follow the conversation.
- Internet Protocol (IP) Relay is text-based and uses the internet instead of a TTY to place the call. The call is still facilitated by a CA, but it can be placed using a computer or another web-enabled device. The call is handled the same as a Text-to-Voice TTY-based call.
- IP Captioned Telephone Service combines Captioned Telephone Services and IP Relay Services. This service uses the internet and provides captions between the caller and the CA. Using this type of service allows an individual to listen to the conversation as well as read the text of what the other party is saying. This type of service does not require any special equipment and can be used with a voice telephone and a computer or other web-enabled device.
- Video Relay Services (VRS) is Internet-based and allows an individual who primarily uses American Sign Language (ASL) to place a call. The individual placing the call communicates with the CA using video conferencing equipment. The CA voices what the caller is communicating and signs back what the response is from the other party.
How To Make A Call
Now that we’ve covered the different types of TRS that an individual who is deaf or hard of hearing can use to communicate via telephone, I’m sure you’re wondering how a hearing person would place a call to an individual, especially if the hearing person does not have any special equipment such as a TTY.
Some individuals have a standard telephone phone number that is already set up and linked to relay. You may be able to dial the phone number directly. However, the most common way is to dial 711, which is available in all states. Dialing 711 will link you directly to the relay service and a CA, who will then place the call. (Note: 711 is not available for VRS and IP relay.) So making a call is as simple as dialing 711. When making a relay call, the CA will ask if you have ever used relay before. If you haven’t, don’t worry, the CA will help you.
Please keep the following in mind. If you receive a call from someone who is using relay, please do not hang up. Some people mistake this type of call as a telemarking call. You should hear “Hello, this is the relay service. . .” when you answer the phone.
There are also some rules of etiquette that are used when communicating via relay, most commonly when communicating via TTY. Because it is difficult to know when a person has finished speaking, it can be hard to take turns. Some of the most commonly used abbreviations are GA, which stands for “Go Ahead,” SK, which stands for “Stop Keying,” and SKSK, which indicates that the conversation has ended. Some individuals will use this etiquette verbally when having a conversation via relay. For example, when you are done speaking, you may say “Go Ahead” so that the CA knows that you have finished what you are saying. If you don’t do this, don’t worry. The CA will still be able to tell when you have finished and communicate this to the other person.
For more information or questions related to relay calls, please contact JAN to speak with a Consultant.
- Federal Communications Commission (2015). Telecommunications Relay Services (TRS). Retrieved April 27, 2015, from https://www.fcc.gov
- National Association of the Deaf (n.d.). Relay Services. Retrieved April 27, 2015, from http://nad.org
Blog originally posted by Traci Jordan, MS, CRC; Consultant, Sensory Team, JAN
Jenny Lay-Flurrie is an example of a person with hearing loss who is not only able to accommodate her disability in the workplace, but is able to turn that disability into an asset. Jenny nearly walked away from a promotion when she felt that her deafness and inability to use a mobile phone would end her budding career at an internet company. Luckily, Jenny’s boss had no intention of letting so much talent walk away so easily and encouraged her to advocate for what she needed. Jenny got top-of-the-line hearing aids and worked with her boss to create a culture of awareness within the company about deafness and hearing loss. Jenny continued to take on bigger roles at that company and several other companies, before becoming a Senior Director at Microsoft,
At Microsoft. Jenny leads the Trusted Experiences Team (TExT), which focuses on accessibility, privacy, and online safety. She gives the company insight on customers with disabilities around the world, which helps create better products for consumers.The Trusted Experiences Team focuses on accessibility, privacy, and online safety. The Trusted Experiences Team is at the forefront of creating positive experiences that apply technology to make a difference in the world and the lives of individuals. Jenny is also the Chair of DisAbility@Microsoft, a network of employee resource groups (ERG’s) focused on “enabling people to be successful regardless of ability or disability.” With the help of her team and the broad community within Microsoft, Jenny leads many initiatives to empower people with disabilities both in and out of Microsoft. To read more about Jenny and the White House Disability Employment Champion of Change Award, please click on the following links:
ACS is dedicated to supporting people with hearing loss in the workplace. Our captioning services make meetings, conventions, trainings, webinars, conference calls, and events accessible to persons who are deaf and hard of hearing. If we can hear it we can caption it. For more information on how captioning might benefit you, please reach out to Business Development Manager Valerie Stafford-Mallis at Valerie@acscaptions.com.