How do I adapt to my deaf colleague’s needs?

I interviewed a deaf person for a key post in our company the other day. He did not use a BSL interpreter and I thought he lipread us very well. His application also impressed us and we’d like to hire him, but we’re not sure how he could communicate with us on a regular basis. What do we need to do to ensure that his needs are met?

Ian, Leicester

Deafauntie says:

Hi Ian,

First of all, well done for separating the two issues: 1) the skills and job match, and 2) communication. So often people get all muddled up with these two quite separate issues and that helps nobody. The first issue you can take care of.

The second – communication. Why not ask the applicant direct? I always say every deaf person is the expert of their own communication needs (not necessarily of other deaf people’s needs but I digress….) so always ask them. Be clear what it is you are concerned about: the more specific you can be, the more able they are to answer you.

It also depends on the job itself – is he expected to be out in the field or at his desk every day? Start the dialogue and I can assure you it will continue for the first three months of employment as different things will crop up. As you have opened the discussion, your deaf colleague will no longer be worried about how to approach things and will be confident in working with you.

One response to “How do I adapt to my deaf colleague’s needs?

  1. This is only the second time during my 30 years of employment where an employer has actually expressed genuine concern about adapting to their deaf colleague’s communication needs. I have lost count of the numerous, “S/he has a communication problem” assumptions and I applaud Ian for recognising that communication is a two way street.

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