By AnnMarie Killian
Imagine this: You are hiring for a job that requires phone work…but the person sitting in front of you is deaf/hard of hearing.
You may be wonder, can a person who is deaf/hard of hearing use the phone successfully?
The answer is yes.
And consider this: Companies and corporations are actively seeking out people with differences. Diversity and inclusion are not just buzzwords—they’re real-life practices that today’s companies are required to implement. Diverse teams and inclusive environments produce an organizational culture that is beneficial to the bottom line.
Yet, at first glance, managers and human resources personnel may be reluctant to consider a deaf/hard of hearing person for a job because of presumed limitations.
They may be wondering:
- If a person can’t hear in the normal range, how can they manage parts of the job that require audio communication?
- If a person can’t hear in the normal range, how will they communicate?
- If a person can’t hear in the normal range, can they really do the job?
- If the job requires phone work, can a deaf/hard of hearing person really handle that aspect of the job?
The reluctance from employers to consider deaf/hard of hearing for jobs that involve phone work often comes from fear of the unknown. If you’ve never met a deaf/hard of hearing person doing the work that you’re hiring for, you might hesitate or even refuse to consider hiring that person.
Technological advances have leveled the playing field in many professions. In many cases, deaf and hard of hearing people bring a different perspective to a job that a person with hearing in the normal range may not have.
You’ll find deaf and hard of hearing people in all kinds of jobs, even those that are considered “impossible” for a deaf/hard of hearing person to be employed in. Surgeons. Lawyers. Auto shop managers. Airplane mechanics. Pharmacists. Audiologists. Bartenders. Musicians. Restaurant servers. Firefighters. NASA launch team specialists.
Even at call centers—which require being on the phone all hours of the job!
For example, Dale McCord works as a Purchase Card Specialist and his job requires frequent phone contact with vendors. “In the past, I occasionally came across managers who were reluctant to hire me for jobs because of perceived ‘limitations,’” Dale explains. “I’m a loyal and hard-working person and today’s technology allows me to do my job very well.”
Dale also has some advice for those who hire: “When you hire a person with a disability, don’t doubt their ability to do the job—because they will often do the job twice as well.”
Today’s technology has made telephone communication accessible in a variety of ways, including captioned phones and videophones. Deaf and hard of hearing individuals can make and receive calls via Video Relay Services such as ZVRS and Purple Video Relay Services.
By utilizing a videophone, a deaf/hard of hearing person is capable of working via phone. The person on the other end of the line does not necessarily know the conversation is woven with two languages, facilitated by a qualified, highly-skilled interpreter.
Here are some frequently asked questions about using Video Relay Services:
How does a deaf/hard of hearing person use a phone with a Video Relay System?
Both ZVRS and Purple provide equipment and software that routes a phone call through a video relay system. The deaf/hard of hearing individual accesses a phone conversation by watching a sign language interpreter on a video screen. The deaf/hard of hearing individual can respond via sign language (the interpreter will voice a translation) or by using their own voice. The conversation flows back and forth between a deaf/hard of hearing individual and a hearing person with an interpreter translating the conversation seamlessly.
Can a deaf/hard of hearing person answer an inbound call?
Yes, calls can be routed through a phone number assigned to a videophone. A visual alert system will notify the deaf/hard of hearing person that a call is coming through. With the press of a button, the call can be answered.
Our network is extremely secure–will a videophone work with our network?
ZVRS and Purple can provide equipment that is encrypted and works with firewalls. The systems are ADA compliant and integrated within your network. Our teams work directly with network system managers to ensure secure connections.
Where can I find more information about phone solutions for potential deaf/hard of hearing employees?
A passionate and people-centric leader, AnnMarie is vice president of diversity and inclusion for Purple Communications. She brings over 25 plus years of diverse experience in telecommunications, retail and fitness. As a Deaf individual, she is intimately familiar with the challenges of engagement and inclusion, which has influenced her professional aspirations. Recently, AnnMarie served as the vice president of operations responsible for leading key deliverables for increasing profitability, growing revenue and maximizing operational efficiencies.