Issues In The Workplace Amongst Deaf and Hearing Communties
There is a large gap in the communication present when it comes to the Deaf and the Hearing communities. Members of the Deaf community are being treated poorly, being assigned to jobs that they are not trained in, and are unable to learn and advance in their respective fields due to the lack of communication. This disconnect stems from both a lack of understanding and a lack of will to learn and understand from the Hearing community. The Know The Sign Campaign will eliminate this issue through instruction and direct immersion and interaction for members of the Hearing community into the Deaf community. Those who are Hearing, a term which describes anyone with the ability to hear and speak clearly, will be made to feel what it’s like to be Deaf. From this ground point, understanding can truly begin to take place. Introduction to basic vocabulary will be presented and taught and direct conversation between the Hearing and the Deaf will occur to establish a true connection. Conversations made in person, predominantly without the aid of an interpreter, creates immersive experiences wherein the two must communicate. In these situations, the immersive nature of the experience allows both parties to learn and better understand one another because there is nothing for them to use as a crutch. With the general knowledge provided by the Know The Sign Campaign, these interactions will be made easier and the lines of communication will open up.
For every 1,000 people in the United States alone, between 10-20 of those people will have some sort of hearing lose. This includes those who are born Deaf, those who lose their hearing later in life, and those who are considered to be hard of hearing. Communication is incredibly difficult between the Deaf and Hearing communities in the workplace. Deaf individuals face degrees of discrimination and harassment due to lack of understanding. The Americans With Disabilities Act setup laws to enforce fair and equal opportunities for Deaf individuals. Companies need to be made aware of the hardships the Deaf community endures in the workplace, and understand that there are special needs that need to be implemented to assist those who cannot hear.
The level of loss varies from one individual to the next, yet the fact still remains that those who have lost there hearing are faced with an extreme hardship when it comes to the workplace. Deaf and Hard of Hearing are two terms commonly used to refer to these individuals and while both imply the loss of hearing, both represent unique problems. The Hearing communities, made up of people who are able to hear and speak clearly, use their voice as their main form of communication. Those within the Deaf Community, which includes those who are hard of hearing, rely on a visual language to communicate.
When Deaf individuals enter the work place they are presented with a number of issues. Without the ability to verbally communicate, nor the ability to audibly learn, they cannot receive the proper information that may be required. If they are required to attend a meeting or a training seminar, they are left out of the loop due to the typical nature of training videos or a “classroom” setup of instruction. In large factories, the most common form of mass communication from the bosses to the employees is through an intercom system. These messages, which are intended to inform all employees, are lost on those who cannot hear. As with any other employee, Deaf individuals are expected to have a verbal and interactive line of communication with both their employers and the individual employees. It is not uncommon for individuals to have their jobs end up on the line because of this disability. The Americans with Disabilities Act has an established presence to prevent such issues from occurring, but issues still arise. Employers become frustrated and irritated with the inability to communicate and will find ulterior methods of removing the “issue.” Even direct, written communication between a Hearing and a Deaf individual isn’t effective because there is a different structure for those who use American Sign Language and those who use verbal English. An understanding needs to occur from the Hearing community so that they can experience what it is like to be a member of the Deaf community. It is through these experiences, that people truly understand the depth of a disability and are more willing to work to fix the barriers that are in place.
With the start up of the Know The Sign Campaign, everyone will be given the opportunity to learn and understand what it is like to be a part of the Deaf community. Employers from District Managers to shift leaders can experience the difficulties Deaf individuals have, and gain a better understanding of how to work around those issues. Fellow co-workers will grasp the basic elements of sign language and a much more free flowing line of communication will take place and be established. With these simple steps, the workplace environment will eliminate any harassment and discrimination (whether intentional or accidental), increase workflow and create a much safer and happier work environment for all involved.
SOCIAL MEDIA RECOMMENDATION
Know the Sign will set forth to establish and work through three basic aspects of the issue a) establishing and understanding the issue at hand, b) explaining the physical element of communication in the Deaf community, and c) teaching basic vocabulary.
Individuals will be given sensory deprivation earmuffs to wear and then instructed to complete a task with zero written communication. This is to create a scenario where all individuals are on the same plane of understanding. There are only audio clues and directions, which cannot be understood by the Deaf. This simple exercise will give those who are from the Hearing community, the ability to experience first hand how difficult it is to complete a task, to do a job, without the ability to effectively communicate.
SIGN LANGUAGE IS PHYSICAL
Sign language is a visual and physical language. Direct attention must be paid to an individual who is signing or you will have no idea what is being discussed. There is more active “listening” taking place with direct face-to-face contact. This will be explained as well as the fact that people use sign language every day, both Hearing and Deaf, and they don’t even realize it. A simple wave of the hand, a smile, a frown, raised eyebrows in shock, stomping the ground when angry, all of these are forms of sign language. Helping people understand that they are already doing it gives them a sense that they can learn it and negates any negative thoughts about their inability to learn.
A basic vocabulary will then be taught to the individuals. The Alphabet will be taught, as well as a visual guide given to them to take with them. Then basic words and phrases will be taught: Hello, Good Morning, How Are You, Please, Sorry, Yes, No, I Made A Mistake, What Happened, My Name Is, Thank you. With these basics the ability for communication to take place increases.
Difficulties with communication are prevalent in the workplace today between the Hearing and Deaf communities. The Know The Sign Campaign will work to remedy this issue with immersive experiences with the disability, pushing an understanding of the physical nature of sign language, and the instruction of words and phrases to open up the lines of communications for both parties.
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