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Celebrating Deaf Communities

Improving Deaf Accessibility in the Workplace

deaf man using sign language
Sponsored by:
deaf man using sign language
Sponsored by:

Michael Dawthorne

Director, Programs & Services Operations, Canadian Hearing Services

National services helping employers better accommodate Deaf and hard of hearing employees.

For the Deaf and hard of hearing community, employment can represent a tremendous challenge. Many find the job-seeking experience to be daunting, while others face employers who don’t feel they have the capacity to hire a hard of hearing employee.

Canadian Hearing Services, a national non-profit, is dedicated to supporting the Deaf and hard of hearing community. The organization delivers services, education, and products aimed at helping the Deaf community overcome obstacles often present in day-to-day life.

“The biggest barrier is stigma; the assumption because someone is Deaf, they can’t do a job,” says Michael Dawthorne, Director of Programs and Services Operations at Canadian Hearing Services. “That’s certainly not the case.”

Programs designed with the Deaf community in mind

It’s this idea that forms the foundation of Canadian Hearing Services’ programs, designed to help ease job-related barriers. The services address these ever-present challenges, making meaningful, long-term employment more accessible for Deaf employees and employers.

For the Deaf community, the Ontario-based Employment Services program provides employment counselling for job seekers directly. The program uses a customized approach, in some cases offering confidence-building for someone looking to move into a new role, practicing interview skills for those aiming to upgrade their skill set, while in others, providing access to further services like the Communication Devices program.

The Workplace Assessment program, however, educates employers nationwide on how to better accommodate hard of hearing employees. “If you’re an employer who can recognize that everyone is different, you’re completely capable of taking on an individual who is Deaf,” says Dawthorne. The service involves a virtual assessment conducted by Canadian Hearing Services, who work with the employer and employee to assess the job, barriers, and challenges, providing a report with tailored suggestions on accommodations that are likely to be successful.

Improving Deaf accessibility in the workplace is not only achievable but effective. Employers have access to tools and support services — like those offered by Canadian Hearing Services — that can help them not only recognize their ability to hire Deaf staff but their role in empowering Deaf employees to thrive.

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