I started out thinking I was only a teacher. The deaf students taught me something very different. My job was about helping students with a hearing loss join friends, family members and the community on a level playing field by giving them the tools to communicate.
Educating deaf students is a special task that takes time and patience. In 25+ years I worked with every age, race, gender and ability level. Helping students discover their own voices was amazing. It was like putting a puzzle together at times and the excitement every time you got another piece to fit filled you with energy to continue.
Communicating is fundamental to living a fulfilled life. In the work place if communication is limited or if people appear to be disinterested in what is being said the dynamics change and collaboration with the team comes to a halt. Don’t take misunderstanding for disinterest or limited knowledge. Including a person with a hearing loss in the work place requires the same willingness to get to know them, their personality, likes and dislikes, work habits, strengths and weaknesses.
Some people communicate using a lot of body language, or use hand gestures to get their point across. Some people use visuals whether it is a power point or even a scribble on a napkin. Some people think you are not listening unless you are giving them eye contact. Understanding and recognizing all of these traits can work to ensure that a person with a hearing loss is included in the conversation. Some individuals will need a visual to accompany what is being said. Perhaps some utilize eye to eye contact, while others will want a demonstration.
The work place is all about communicating with team members to get the job done. Does it matter if one team member needs something different to help facilitate that communication?