Deafness – Being Inclusive

As part of Deaf Awarness week, I’m writing small guides on deafness. If you have a deaf colleague, it’s important you make your deaf colleague inclusive in all things such as discussions or video calls.

Notes after a video call

After a video call, please send notes or a summary of the video call where you have discussed progress of a project or tasks for everyone to do. Most of the time, we don’t always catch everything being said. Captions don’t work 100% of the time, there might be some cross talk or we experience fatigue after spending a long time on a video call.

Your notes can cover who’s doing what, especially your deaf colleague who will know what to do

Don’t say “I’ll tell you later” and not act on it

If you’re talking to your deaf colleague and they didn’t understand what you said, please be patient and try again. Don’t say “I will tell you later” and then not act on it. Many times, we have been told “I will tell you later” and we never get a follow up. this leaves us frustrated and excluded from the conversation. By saying “I’ll tell you later”, you are proactively excluding us and insulting our intelligence thinking we will forget about it. We won’t.

We might know something which could help you or other people. We want to be part of the team

Ask us directly, not our colleagues

If you need to know something from your deaf colleague, ask them directly, not their colleagues. Like, how are they progressing with the task, what was the cause of the issue or can they give any more info. If you ask a colleague when you should ask a deaf colleague while they’re in your present company, they will feel devalued.

An example, I explained the cause of a technical issue to a colleague in simple terms (no jargon), that non-technical colleague kept looking at my peer developer for an explanation. This was my task, not my peer’s. I re-iterated the same explanation. The colleague didn’t accept my explanation, and asked my peer instead while I was sitting there. There was no problem with my speech. My peer understood me and said the same thing as I did, my non-technical colleague then accepted the explanation. This kind of thing can makes us feel devalued and not trusted.