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Fostering an inclusive workplace for hearing-impaired employees

Fostering an inclusive workplace for hearing-impaired employees

We gained insights into the challenges faced by hearing-impaired employees in the workplace, providing practical solutions for business leaders aiming to foster inclusivity.

Identifying challenges
Understanding the hurdles faced by hearing-impaired employees is crucial for creating a supportive environment in the workplace. Didi and Tshepo highlighted some of the prevalent communication gaps arising from a lack of access to job information and insufficient orientation.

Strategies for Inclusivity

  1. Help employees connect and communicate
    Encourage employees to undertake South African Sign Language (SASL) training. As Didi and Tshepo highlight, it’s important to equip staff with this skill for direct communication.
  2. Get the necessary support
    Integrate sign language interpreters for key meetings. Didi and Tshepo stress the importance of having interpreters to ensure effective communication, particularly during critical discussions.
  3. Make the most of technology
    Leverage technology for visual communication and safety alerts. For non-critical matters, technology can be used to reduce dependence on interpreters, ensuring efficient and timely information transfer.
  4. Workshop sessions
    Conduct sensitising workshops on Deaf culture and SASL. Didi and Tshepo underscore the need for mutual understanding, stressing the importance of colleagues being aware of the unique challenges faced by hearing-impaired employees.
  5. Inclusive training
    Tailor workplace programmes to promote understanding and empathy, ensuring inclusivity for all employees. In particular, design training initiatives that address the specific needs of hearing-impaired individuals, advise Didi and Tshepo.

Leadership's role

Business leaders play a critical role in promoting equality. Didi and Tshepo advocate for:

  • Active participation of hearing-impaired employees in decision-making processes.
  • Incorporation of their inputs into business plans and structural decisions.

Legal obligations and supportive environments
Compliance with the Employment Equity Act (EEA) and Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA) is essential. Businesses should also focus on:

  • Removing communication barriers.
  • Providing technology assistive devices.
  • Conducting SASL orientation sessions for Deaf employees.

A case study of innovation
In 2020, a company faced communication challenges with Deaf employees that arose as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Their innovative solution was wearable glasses, enabling visual communication and access to sign language interpreters online. You can read more about this ground-breaking tool over here.

These insights, derived from the experiences and recommendations of Didi and Tshepo, are designed to empower business leaders to create a workplace that values diversity and actively fosters inclusivity for hearing-impaired employees.

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