Learn more about accommodations, hiring deaf workers, and the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Download this free eGuide to learn more about:

And more! Download this free eGuide today to learn more about reasonable accommodations and what you need to know when you start to hire deaf employees.  

In this e-guide, you’ll learn all about the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and how it relates to hiring deaf and hard of hearing employees.

Download it for free today to get valuable information about:

Learn best practices and how to find certified American Sign Language interpreters.

Good communication with Deaf and hard of hearing people starts with understanding how to use sign language interpreters – whether that’s on the phone, in-person or over video. In this free downloadable e-guide, you’ll find topics like:

You’ll also find tips for how to use interpreters during interviews, meetings and appointments. Once you understand the process, you will be better able to serve your Deaf and Hard of hearing employees, customers and consumers.

Curious about what systemic factors need to be addressed in order to lower Deaf unemployment? 

Some of the reasons might surprise you, and many are due to negative stereotypes or false ideas. Watch this video with Director of Public Policy David Bahar to learn more about the Deaf community’s struggles with chronic unemployment and underemployment. Watch the video below, where David highlights an important way in which this epidemic can be addressed.


A man by the name of Mark Wafer once opened a restaurant named “Tim Horton’s” and made the decision to hire Clint Sperling, a person with a disability. Wafer was recently recalling this decision fondly, recognizing Clint as the best of any of his employees. Wafer went on to open a total of 7 Tim Horton’ s restaurants, and as his business expanded so did his hiring of people with disabilities. Today Tim Horton’s employs around 41 people with disabilities, comprising roughly 20% of their entire workforce.

 Now some statistics to put this into context. Did you know that only 13.6% of businesses actively recruit to hire people with disabilities?

The problem is people willing to actually hire people with disabilities, such as Mark Wafer, are few and far between.

Amongst the general populace the employment market is looking bright, with the unemployment rate trending down and more and more people finding jobs.

In the year 2016 65.3% of the general population was employed. Even so, people with disabilities have continued to struggle. 71.6% of people with disabilities are not part of the labor force, meaning they don’t have a job and are not looking for one. Compare that to 30.1% of the general population not participating in the labor force and you’ll see a huge disparity there.

We have an employment problem, we know it and the government knows it too, and has tried a number of tactics to address it. For example, in 2007 the United States Department of Labor, or DOL, implemented a requirement that companies wishing to contract with the federal government must hire a minimum of 7% of people with disabilities. Then in 2010 President Barack Obama issued Executive Order 13548, which established a 5 year goal for the federal government to hire 100,000 people with disabilities. Sure enough after those 5 years elapsed, the government had surpassed their goal, hiring 109,000 people with disabilities. However, if you look closer at that number you’ll find that of those 109,000, only 1,768 have what’s called “targeted disabilities.” People with targeted disabilities are Deaf, blind, Deaf-blind, have physical disabilities, or developmental disabilities just to name a few. The remainder of those new hires, more than 106,000, have “non-targeted disabilities”, like migraines, attention deficit disorder, heart disease, or asthma amongst other things.

That population has experienced fewer problems in the job market as compared to people with targeted disabilities, which means that this executive order was sadly a missed opportunity.

So what’s really behind this employment problem for people with disabilities? It is a problem of perceptions. The first deeply held perception is that people with disabilities are expensive. The second is that a person’s disability de facto renders them unable to work. I’ll give you an example of the misconception that people with disabilities are expensive. In 2008 The Department of Labor conducted a study of high ranking human resources professionals in which they asked them to list their top concerns about hiring people with disabilities. Most of the respondents said expense was their number one concern, fearing that hiring a person with a disability would represent an ongoing high priced expense to the company. That concern is unfounded, and I’ll tell you why. In a different study, high ranking human resources professionals who had already actually hired an employee with a disability were asked to spell out how much that employee truly cost the company. Most said the employee cost nothing. Of the rest, about 2 out of 5 responded that accommodations cost around $500.

Mark Wafer already knew all of this, because he hired Clint and realized that his preconceived notions were just wrong. He hired Clint, he worked with Clint, and he came to realize that people with disabilities can become top performing employees. Cost concerns aside, let’s talk about the misconception that people with disabilities are unable to work. Spoiler alert – it’s just as wrong as the argument about expense.

There are real life examples in the business world, not just Mark Wafer and Tim Horton’s, but also a company called Walgreens. Randy Lewis of Walgreens decided to aggressively recruit and hire many people with disabilities to work in Walgreens’ distribution centers. After success with this aggressive hiring wave, at a number of distribution centers people with disabilities were the majority, rather than the minority of employees! Then, Walgreens realized something. Employees with disabilities were more productive and effective. Employees with disabilities were also more loyal to the company, with a lower rate of quitting and transferring. This means the company found itself spending less money on turnover and training new employees. As it turns out, these fears about employees with disabilities not being able to work and costing more money were just that: Fears, without foundation in truth. Mark Wafer and Randy Lewis both proved that these fears were unjustified, and there are more examples of the same effect at other companies.

Sadly, this does not mean that we have solved the problem. We all have to work to continue to educate people about this issue, and you can personally get involved. There’s a wealth of information available at the link below this video, and you can send that information to human resources professionals, companies, and others to continue the process of debunking these myths about employing people with disabilities. More than just education is necessary, however. The government has a role to play, and has tried several approaches to date. More recently in January of 2017 the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or EEOC implemented a requirement that 2% of employees with the federal government must be people with targeted disabilities, which is good! You’ll recall we also talked earlier about the Department of Labor rule requiring companies that wish to contract with the federal government to have a minimum of 7% of their workforce comprised of people with disabilities. The DOL has now raised that requirement from 7 to 12%, which is good!

But the problem is massive, and our work isn’t finished yet. Luckily, there’s still more we can do, which I’ll get into in a moment. The Bureau of Labor Statistics conducted a study which showed that people with disabilities are more likely to set up their own small business; twice as likely, in fact! Entrepreneurship reduces discrimination against and frustration for people with disabilities, which gives us a new strategy to help address our problem. These small businesses founded by people with disabilities can spread change. The Small Business Administration or SBA has a longstanding program intended to help minority owned small businesses succeed in the complex process of bidding for government contracts by giving them priority in the bidding process, and thus a better chance at winning. It’s called the SBA 8(a) program, and its goal is to support small businesses whose owners belong to specific minority groups. As mentioned this means better access to federal contracting, but it also means access to the SBA’s business resource center, where business owners can learn more about important entrepreneurship skills like financing, business planning, employee training, and hiring procedures. Unfortunately this 8(a) program does not include people with disabilities amongst the minority groups it helps, despite the similar challenges people with disabilities have faced for many years.

CSD is now partnering with members of Congress with the intention to draft a bill explicitly adding people with disabilities as part of the SBA’s 8(a) program. CSD will keep you updated as we make more progress on this project, and we want you to join us in our quest to make a real difference. At the link below you can subscribe to notifications about ways that you can contribute to this important endeavor. I hope you’ll join us.

Are you ready to change the narrative around Deaf unemployment by hiring Deaf employees?

How Deaf-friendly is your workplace right now?  Take our free Workplace Assessment today to find out what you’re doing right and how you can improve.

Being Deaf is often a benefit in the workplace.

Deaf people have stronger peripheral vision, are better at detecting motion and forms, have higher visual and spatial intelligence, and much more. #DeafEffect takes a look at the gifts Deaf people and signed languages offer to humanity. With real-life stories sharing how the #DeafEffect has led to unique careers, you’ll never look at Deaf people the same way again.

Center Director – Peter Hauser

Watch Peter Hauser share examples of his work and his #DeafEffect.

Israeli Military Officer – Elinor Goldberg

Learn how being deaf has helped her be a successful deaf Israeli Military Officer.

FBI – Ryan Maliszewski

Watch to see how being deaf supports Ryan’s success in the interrogation room.

Pro Basketball – Michael Lizarraga

Learn how being deaf helps Michael process plays faster than others.

Electrical Engineer – Erin Ramsey

Erin shares how being deaf has made her better at visualizing complicated documents.

SpaceX – Arthur Yankilevich

See how being deaf has helped Arthur be successful in his career.

Clinical Lab Scientist – Nate Huddleston

Nate explains his role as a clinical lab scientist.

Visual Display Mgr – Carolyn Neumann

Carolynn explains the benefits of being deaf in her career.

Jody Hamilton, RN has spent the last 20 years as a nurse.

Her patients benefit from her #DeafEffect: enhanced periphery vision.  Watch the video to see her in action.

Meet your diversity hiring goals: Recruit Deaf workers.

Become a standard-bearer in your industry by creating a truly inclusive workplace. Use these resources to make sure that you are not only following the law, but making sure that you are cultivating an environment that encourages Deaf success.

Here is a list of some useful disability accommodation resources for employers supporting Deaf job creation:

Diversity management tools and resources ensure Deaf employment success.

CSD Works offers additional services for companies committed to diversity and inclusion. We can:

All rights reserved © 2024 Communication Service for the Deaf | Privacy Policy
linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram