The Best Tools for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Workplace Success
Nov 17, 2022, 9:42 AM | Updated: Dec 12, 2022, 11:57 am
This article about accommodations for workers who are deaf and hard-of-hearing is sponsored by Sorenson.
Deaf and hard-of-hearing employees don’t always have equity in their work experiences. The right solutions empower those employees to excel in their jobs: following meetings or training, handling phone calls, and communicating with coworkers.
Taking advantage of tools and technology to allow full team participation also opens the door for coworkers to build rapport and improve their professional relationships. Here are some of the best resources to make your workplace work better for Deaf and hard-of-hearing employees.
CaptionCall phones use voice-to-text technology to transcribe conversations. They dial, ring, and leave voice messages just like a regular phone. Captioning agents and automatic speech recognition technology transform speaker’s words to text so a Deaf or hard-of-hearing user can read them on the CaptionCall phone screen instantly. The user can then type or speak their response back.
The phone and service come at no cost to the user thanks to funds set aside under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
Videophones (VP) enable phone calls between sign language users and hearing people through use of ASL interpreters who relay messages back and forth. VP’s have upgraded hardware with modern cameras, fast processors, and bright call flashers. They connect over wi-fi or ethernet. Users can add photos to their contacts, make group calls, and transfer calls. SignMail is another popular feature that allows someone to leave a message in ASL, similar to voicemail.
Deaf and hard-of-hearing people who use sign language have a right to request an interpreter under the ADA. An ASL interpreter can facilitate easy communication between colleagues in the same location. The company covers the cost of the interpreting services, not the individual.
If you’re using an ASL interpreter in meetings or training, note-takers are a helpful asset. With them available to take notes, the employee can focus on the interpreter and the presentation without missing anything and still have notes to refer back to later.
Video Remote Interpreting (VRI) App
You can use ASL interpreters virtually as well. Video Remote Interpreting (VRI) allows you to have interpreted conversations via webcam over a high-speed internet connection. You can use VRI whether your team is in the office together or working remotely and gathering via virtual meetings. VRI is common in schools, offices, and hospitals.
VRI is available as a cloud-based service on Windows, Mac, Android, or iOS devices, with no need to install software. You can even get an interpreter with background knowledge of your industry and terminology.
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