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How Not To Discriminate Deaf Job Candidates

3rd May 2018
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According to TotalJobs, more than one-third of deaf and hard of hearing job candidates (37%) have faced discrimination as early as the interview stage. The reasons for discrimination may include fear, ignorance or costs control. Many employers are generally not comfortable with the idea of working with deaf and hard of hearing individuals as their co-workers. In addition, research showed that too many businesses worry that it will be too costly to accommodate deaf and hard of hearing employees which is often widely debunked by cost analysis studies and employers’ anecdotes.

Hiring and investing in qualified deaf and hard of hearing individuals should be viewed as an opportunity to create an untapped talented pool of individuals that many businesses presently fail to recognize. Deaf and hard of hearing people often are remarkably hard workers, have excellent attendance and are productive. There are also tax incentives for hiring deaf and hard of hearing people in the United States which will be discussed more later in this article. Employers that successfully hired qualified deaf and hard of hearing people as their employees have confirmed many times over that that they can be a great investment, a first-rate business asset, and excellent sources of inspiration and motivation.

Due to the overlooked benefits of hiring and investing in deaf and hard of hearing employees, the unemployment rate within this population has risen steadily over the years. This may be largely due to discriminatory hiring practices by many businesses, particularly by their Human Resource Departments. Such practices can range from the discriminatory language on the job ad itself, to the application and the hiring process. Such examples often include stating that employees are required to use phones in the job ads (this can be easily remedied via reasonable accommodations), quickly screening out deaf and hard of hearing candidates upon learning about their hearing loss on the applications, and refusing to provide accommodations during the interview stage (e.g., sign language interpreters). That being said, revising the hiring policies will go a long way for both deaf and hard of hearing candidates and the businesses, especially the Human Resource Departments.

Reasonable Accommodations

Very few businesses know how to accommodate individuals with hearing loss. Generally speaking, a reasonable accommodation is a simple modification to a job, the work surrounding, or business procedures to enable a qualified deaf or hard of hearing individual to have an equal employment opportunity. The Human Resource Departments are tasked to:

  • Guarantee equal opportunity in the application process;
  • Allow an employee to perform an essential function of a job; and
  • Provide equal benefits and privileges of employment regardless of disability.

For interviews, the most common examples of inexpensive accommodations for deaf and hard of hearing job candidates can include:

  • Contact the deaf and hard of hearing candidates via e-mail or use telecommunications relay service to schedule for interviews;
  • Arrange for sign language interpreters or another kind of accommodation that best matched to the deaf and hard of hearing candidates – ask them what will work the best for them;
  • Supply the interview questions on paper and allow deaf and hard of hearing candidates additional time to read them before answering;
  • Provide visual aids to deaf and hard of hearing candidates rather than relying on everything verbal.

Tax Benefits for Businesses

The United States’ tax incentives for employers who hire deaf and hard of hearing people may include the Work Opportunity Credit, the Disabled Access Credit and the Architectural Barrier Removal Credit. You can find out how much your company may qualify by using the Hire Gauge, a free tool for employers to get a good estimate of how much business taxes can be saved if a deaf or hard of hearing person is hired. The savings can be substantial.

Final Words

The Human Resources Department is the gatekeeper in every company. That being said, Human Resources representatives have enormous influence on companies’ best practices in interviewing and hiring deaf and hard of hearing people. By eliminating discrimination against deaf and hard of hearing job candidates, especially during the interview stage, companies have much better chances of hiring excellent workers who can contribute to companies’ overall successes.

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