The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the way businesses do almost everything—from customer service, to employee interaction, to interviews and hiring. At this month’s webinar, we spoke to panelists from HEB Supermarkets, RIT/NTID, Gallaudet, and Amazon to learn more about what companies are doing to make the hiring process, and virtual workplace, more accessible.
While the pandemic has been difficult for job seekers in many ways, we’re also seeing some positive changes in employer attitudes that can work to deaf people’s advantage. For example, companies have shifted to remote working as much as possible, meaning people can apply for jobs without worrying about the commute.
Employers are also more focused on accessibility than ever before. Companies have been spending more time learning and teaching about accessible technology, and are working to integrate captions in meetings and interviews.
Thinking ahead: Reasonable accommodations
Accommodations are not only your legal right—they’re also in the company’s best interest, so you can be the most productive employee possible. Request your interview accommodations, like captioning or an interpreter, well in advance so everyone is prepared. You should also think about other accommodations you might need to perform the job well. Some examples are:
- Visual alerts for fire alarms, doorbells, or phones
- Assisted listening devices
- Amplified or captioned phones
- Instant messenger and email
The number one thing job seekers need?
Confidence! Assume the job opening is there for you to fill, and don’t apologize for accommodation requests. Being comfortable, clear, and timely about your requests will show employers that hiring a D/HH employee is just as easy hiring a hearing one.
In fact, panelists pointed out that deaf job-seekers have something hearing ones don’t—their unique perspective as a deaf person.
“The best part about hiring a D/HH employee is the adaptability of that person,” said panelist Regina Kiperman-Kiselgof, the Assistant Director of the RIT/NTID Center on Employment. Deaf people bring a unique set of problem-solving skills to the table, and can teach fellow employees about flexibility and more effective communication skills.