Working Together: Deaf and Hearing People, an interactive workshop to help employers integrate deaf and hard-of-hearing employees, has reached a milestone, celebrating 33 years and 1,000 workshop presentations.
The program, created by the Center on Employment at the National Technical Institute for the Deaf, was designed to offer customizable training to help employers feel comfortable hiring deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals. The sessions also give hearing participants information and hands-on experience to build their own strategies for working with deaf employees and being sensitive to their needs.
Workshop topics are offered to supervisors, human resource professionals and co-workers of deaf and hard-of-hearing employees. They include communication strategies, safety in the workplace, particularly in science-based or manufacturing companies, and a review of accommodations that might be necessary for employees.
According to center Director John Macko, there has been an increase in requests for workshops about new technologies that are available for deaf and hard-of-hearing employees and their co-workers.
“Much has changed over the past 30 years when it comes to working and communicating with deaf people,” said Macko. “Today there are so many technologies and devices that facilitate communication and make it easier for hearing people to communicate with deaf and hard-of-hearing people, and vice versa. Our program is unique because we can tailor it to fully address the needs of the employers we serve.”
Workshop presentation teams—usually consisting of one hearing person and one deaf person—also teach employers about deaf culture and use hearing-loss simulation demonstrations and listening exercises to give participants a sense of what it’s like to be deaf.
Macko said the center coordinates about 30 workshops each year throughout the country, and team members visit companies of varying sizes, including Walt Disney Co., JP Morgan Chase, Huntington Ingalls Industries, Lockheed Martin, Merck, Tiffany and Co., Proctor and Gamble, and others. The 1,000th workshop was held at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Maine.
This program also has a positive impact on these employers for hiring NTID students and graduates for co-op and full time positions, Macko said. The workshops also help establish valuable relationships with companies, many of which return to NTID to recruit at the annual job fair.
“When we visit these companies to present our workshops, we also talk with them about the quality of our NTID students—tout their interpersonal skills, their motivation and dedication and the overall high employability of our students and graduates. We have the kind of students that employers want to hire.”