Deaf Awareness Month, observed each year in September, is a time to recognize and celebrate the Deaf community, their language, culture, and contributions. This month is not only an opportunity to promote understanding but also serves as another way to create a more inclusive workplace—where every individual is valued and respected. In this article, we’ll explore ways to promote inclusiveness for Deaf Awareness Month at work and offer resources to help you get there.
The first step in promoting inclusiveness is to educate your team about Deaf Awareness Month. Share the significance of this month, the challenges the Deaf community faces, and the rich cultural heritage it brings to society. Knowledge fosters understanding, which in turn paves the way for a more inclusive workplace.
We like this video series #DeafAtWork from National Association of the Deaf that offers 30+ interviews with members of the Deaf community as a way to share relatable real-life experiences with employees.
One of the key aspects of inclusiveness is ensuring that communication is accessible to all. For Deaf individuals, this often means utilizing American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters for meetings, presentations, and important discussions. Additionally, providing written summaries and transcriptions of spoken content ensures that Deaf employees can fully participate and contribute.
Earlier this year, our partners at SHRM offered this resource for employers with guidance for accommodating workers with hearing disabilities.
Learning even basic ASL not only facilitates communication with Deaf colleagues but also showcases a commitment to inclusivity. It’s a wonderful way to bridge the communication gap and foster a sense of belonging.
Take Lessons, powered by Microsoft, offers this free video of 20+ basic sign language phrases for beginners.
Use Deaf Awareness Month as an opportunity to celebrate Deaf culture. Host events, invite guest speakers, or screen documentaries that highlight Deaf history, art, and achievements. Encouraging employees to learn about and appreciate Deaf culture creates a more inclusive atmosphere.
Hands & Voices is a parent-driven organization that supports families with children who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing without a bias around communication modes or methodology, and they offer this downloadable 5-page PDF on Deaf culture.
Consider partnering with Deaf organizations or charities during this month. This collaboration can involve fundraising, volunteer opportunities, or simply raising awareness about the organization’s mission. Supporting these organizations showcases your commitment to the Deaf community beyond the workplace.
American Speech-Language-Hearing Association offers a free list of hearing loss organizations and associations to help you get started.
Deaf Awareness Month serves as a reminder that inclusiveness goes beyond tolerance—it’s about embracing diversity, understanding different perspectives, and making meaningful efforts to ensure that every individual can participate fully. By educating, promoting effective communication, celebrating culture, and supporting the Deaf community, you’re not only creating a more inclusive workplace but also enriching your company’s culture and values. Let Deaf Awareness Month be the catalyst for positive change in your workplace—fostering an environment where everyone feels valued and heard.