Successful Job Performance – Deaf and Hard of Hearing Employees

Emma Curry, Vice President In order for each of us to be the most successful we can be, we have to be extremely well informed about our jobs and our company. As a person who is deaf or hard of hearing, how can you ensure that you have the same information as your hearing peers? Below are comments heard from supervisors who are hearing about employees who are deaf: 1) They don’t know the job. They don’t carry their weight. Their co-workers who are hearing having to pick up the pieces of the job that the worker who is deaf doesn’t understand or doesn’t do. Their co-workers who are hearing resent having to do their work. 2) If I instruct them to do what their hearing co-workers are doing, they appear resentful. Deafness is a shield at times from working efficiently. If I ask them to work independently just as their hearing counterparts are doing, they often want an interpreter. Yet the instructions are clearly in front of them. Why don’t some deaf employees know their job? Why don’t they carry their weight? Why are their hearing co-workers having to pick up the pieces? Why do some employees who are deaf think they are not as accountable for their job performance as their hearing co-workers? What responsibility should an employee who is deaf take for his/her own job performance? Does the employee who is deaf use deafness as a shield for not fulfilling all the duties of a job? The above problems must be solved. This is an opportunity to change a supervisor’s mind from saying “I don’t want any more employees who are deaf” to the supervisor saying “These are some of my best employees!” Co-workers who are deaf are not learning at the same pace as their hearing peers. Co-workers who are hearing are learning more about their jobs day-by-day listening and talking with each other. Learning takes place at the beginning of a new job with training that lasts a short period of time. However the deep learning about a job takes place over an extended period of time. In fact, it really never stops for those who want to succeed at a high level. Often that information is transferred in short, quick exchanges. Each communication increases the knowledge about the job, the workplace, and the co-workers. Often the co-worker who is deaf does not know how much is being missed each day. Staff members who are deaf miss much of this ongoing learning – whether from brief or extended conversations. They also miss the personal interaction in the workplace, which is a significant part of job satisfaction. Hearing supervisors often point out that the deaf employee doesn’t have as much information as their hearing co-workers – and it is a concern both for the employee and getting the work done efficiently. Employees who are deaf are just as accountable for job performance as an employee who is hearing. They shouldn’t be held to a lower standard because they are deaf. Having said that, how can an employee who is deaf be as informed about the work and the social environment of the workplace as their counterparts? What responsibility does the worker who is deaf have to increase his/her knowledge? Recognizing that accommodation must be reasonable, how can an employee who is deaf have access to those ongoing learning opportunities without an interpreter standing by eight hours a day? Let’s face it, that’s not, in general, considered reasonable. Prior to the UbiDuo, there wasn’t a vehicle for providing instant face-to-face, independent communication between those who are deaf or hard-of-hearing and the hearing – at any time and at any location – unless they knew sign language. Through a partnership with the National Institutes of Health, that communication gap changed with the development of the UbiDuo. Now an employee who is deaf can be pro-active in learning minute-by-minute more about their job, their workplace, and the other employees. With a UbiDuo at the work station, that employee can take responsibility for ongoing learning and increase his/her knowledge base, guaranteeing a more successful work experience. Might it help your promotion goals, your overall career goals, and your interaction with your co-workers if you used UbiDuo for your ongoing daily communication – reserving use of an interpreter for specific training times? Think about it. What could a UbiDuo mean to your career, to your life, and to all the other job seekers who are deaf? You could be part of changing the perception for all workers who are deaf. The final result will be successful job performance from deaf and hard of hearing employees.
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