Searching for a job for a Deaf or Hard of Hearing (HoH) person is one of the most frustrating experiences they have to face. They will probably have to deal with linguistic complications, discrimination and a lack of deaf awareness.
Did you know that more than 82% of qualified disabled people are unemployed and are actively looking for a job? (according to statistics available for 2015).
What is an even more shocking statistic is that 37% of deaf people have experienced discrimination in the workplace during a job interview.
There will need to be careful consideration about how to remove potential barriers BEFORE, DURING and AFTER an interview in order to ensure a successful experience for all parties. That is why we are sharing these easy steps that will guide you throughout the process:
BEFORE AN INTERVIEW WITH A DEAF/HoH PERSON
First of all, you might need to contact the deaf candidate by email or indeed any other way but calling to their phone. Remember: They are deaf. Definitely don’t leave a voicemail when they don’t answer your call!
Let the job candidate choose their preferred interpreter or interpreting service company and make the arrangements for them if needed. The interpreter will help facilitate the flow of conversation back and forth.
DURING AN INTERVIEW WITH A DEAF/HoH PERSON
If the deaf job candidate decides to arrange the job interview with an interpreter, always remember to address the deaf person directly and make respectful eye contact, don't look at the interpreter. We know that sign language can be hypnotic to watch, but you are having a conversation with the deaf person. (Read this basic guidelines on how to work with a sign language interpreter).
Try to conduct the meeting in a well-lit room away from lots of external noise or visual disruptions. Sit down in front of the applicant with the interpreter seated next to you.
Avoid talking to the deaf person in the third person using phrases as "Tell her/him," or "Explain to her/him"...
Speak in your normal tone, at your normal pace.
If you are using previously written notes, or other supporting documentation, remember to offer a copy to both the deaf person and the interpreter.
Avoid personal conversations with the interpreter, ask for her/his opinion or talk to the interpreter like the deaf person isn’t there. The interpreter is working as a means of language-transmission, a conduit for information and not as a participant in the interview process itself.
➤ TOP TIP: Treat the job candidate with respect and don't patronise them. And also, and above all, don't say things like "You speak very well for someone who is deaf", or "Wait, you can drive?" (Read more about Audism).
AFTER AN INTERVIEW WITH A DEAF/HoH PERSON
If the deaf candidate is qualified for the role, then you will need to ask them about which accommodations would help them succeed in their role. They might need assistive technology, apps and online tools to carry out their job responsibilities without impediments. (Read how the Government grant scheme Access to Work AtW can pay for support and equipment in the workplace).
Ensure that the company develop an understanding of Deafness and Deaf Culture arranging a Deaf Awareness Training session. You and your company will support equality and will be aware of how to communicate with your Deaf colleagues. It really has a positive impact on both the business as a whole and the Deaf employee. This is a “win – win” situation for everone.
If you are unsure of the appropriate way to proceed in a particular situation, just relax and ask. If you are curious it will be perfectly OK to ask a question of the deaf person. They will not be offended, will be happy to help and will in fact be delighted that you want to learn more!
WHAT ABOUT VIDEO INTERVIEWS?
Video job interviews are an increasingly common part of the hiring process. Good practices must be adhered to in order to ensure a successful experience for all when virtually interviewing a Deaf/HoH person.
First of all, test the platform and log in 15-20 minutes before your interview to ensure that everything is functioning properly.
Make sure that your face is well-lit, placing the source of light in any place but behind you, in order to avoid shadows that will make lipreading harder.
Please don't cover your mouth while speaking and look directly to the camera.
Make sure your background is not distracting.
Use a platform that provides live captions and also a chat - It will help to clarify any missing information. If the deaf person is using an interpreter, leave gaps for the Interpreter to sign what is being said.
Be confident, smile, make eye contact and actively listen to your candidate throughout.
We really hope that all this information will help to develop an understanding of this potentially difficult situation, so that we can all work together to eradicate a lack of deaf awareness.
Help us share this much needed information! We all need to change. We all need to learn. We all need to come through this together.