Employers – are you Deaf friendly?

logoInteresource Group is a partner in a European network called DEAF – ICT. The project brings together experts from Italy, Germany Ireland and Poland and is aimed at providing guidance to employers who employ Deaf people. We are currently developing best practice guidelines which focus on aspects of Deaf culture, communication and the awareness of Irish Sign Language (ISL)

Many employers are aware of equality legislation and equal opportunities however in practice most will not know English is a second language of Deaf people who use Irish Sign Language. Many employers will use methods of communication that simply are not effective. While writing notes is fine – the reliance of written communication alone in a working environment can lead to isolation and lack of personal contact. Many employers will not have worked with a sign language interpreter and feel that lip-reading will suffice and that all deaf people can lip-read.

Employment advancement (training, promotion and progression) for deaf people is also a concern as Deaf people have reported that employers often neglect to accommodate the needs of a sign language user either as a result of not possessing sufficient know-how in job redesign (reasonable accommodation) or simply not being “Deaf-aware”. Often, Deaf employees feel left out of decisions and discussions when a sign language interpreter was not present and hearing managers told the Deaf employee that they can “catch-up later” by being provided with the information after the meeting. The majority of hearing employers do not have an opportunity to meet and interact with Deaf people and naturally they are more inclined to think of the Deaf experience from their own point of view.

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