Advocating for Your Communication Needs
People who are Deaf and hard of hearing have learned to be flexible and creative to “jump through the hoops” of communication barriers in their daily lives. For many, this results in pent-up frustration, a feeling of being neglected, and even feelings of hopelessness. Organizations like Deaf & Hear Alberta advocate for the human rights of Deaf and hard of hearing Albertans, but it only goes so far. The louder voices must come from the Deaf and hard of hearing community when they choose to advocate for their communication needs in every situation. What a tiring process! Yet we all know the saying, “The squeaky wheel gets the grease.”
I Need “X” to Communicate with You
Self-advocacy means telling someone what you need to enable equal access to communication. Successful self-advocates know their rights and can explain their needs in a clear, respectful way. By advocating for your needs, you are taking control of your life.
You may be thinking, “I ask for the accommodations I need, but no one ever listens.” Don’t give up! You are not alone. When you self-advocate, others will witness it and they will talk about it. Over time, you will discover that self-advocacy is contagious. Not only is it contagious, but it is a way to educate the people you encounter. The majority of people who are hearing do not think about or understand what it is like to live in a world where you have to fight to communicate. They do not know your story.
The Alberta Human Rights Act defines a duty to accommodate for employers, landlords, business owners, public service providers, educational institutions, professional associations, trade unions, and other individuals and groups. Under the Act, employers must create and maintain an inclusive workplace.
- removing discriminatory barriers that prevent individuals from getting a job or promotion
- accommodating employees who have special needs
- ensuring that the work environment is free from discrimination
A workplace and accommodation assessment helps determine whether a business has any communication barriers. Workplace assessments take place on-site, or by phone or video chat, with a consultant who speaks with the employee about their job and clarifies the communication challenges they face. Each employee’s needs are unique.
After the assessment, the employer receives a report that addresses how the workplace can be improved to create an environment where everyone communicates equally.
Alternate forms of communication or assistive products are recommended depending on the situation. Examples include phone amplifiers, telephone headsets, wireless microphones, background noise reducers, Video Remote Interpreting, speech-to-text apps, closed captioning, and more.
Spring is a time for new beginnings. Begin your self-advocacy journey!