Man and woman shaking hands during an interviewLearn about the 3 milestones that are recognized and celebrated during Deaf History Month. And discover supports and resources that are available for people who are deaf or hard of hearing as they explore their employment options.

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Celebrating Deaf History Month and Employment

Mar 25, 2019

Man and woman shaking hands during an interviewDid you know that Deaf History Month spans from March 13 to April 15? Instead of designating a single month to recognize individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing, the observance is also planned to recognize 3 specific milestones in deaf history:

  • March 13, 1988: Gallaudet University, a private university that is designed to offer all its programs and courses for students who are deaf and hard of hearing, names its first deaf president, Dr. I. King Jordan. This was a major success for the Deaf President Movement and served as a moment of empowerment for people who are deaf or hard of hearing.
  • April 8, 1864: President Abraham Lincoln signs the charter for Gallaudet University to establish the first school for advanced education of people who are deaf and hard of hearing.
  • April 15, 1817: The American School for the Deaf, the first public school for people who are deaf, opens in Connecticut.

The ADA and employment for people who are deaf

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) covers rights for people with disabilities in a variety of areas, including employment (Title I). So, as you think about work and ask questions about how to pursue work as a person who is deaf or hard of hearing, you may want to know about the resources and supports available to help you find and succeed at work.

For example, it's important to know that you can request reasonable accommodations, for both the application and interview process, as well as once you're hired and start working. What changes to your environment or responsibilities might help you succeed in the workplace? The Job Accommodation Network, funded by the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP), offers employees who are deaf or hard of hearing, a variety of options that may help you with workplace functions, like communications, equipment operations and safety standards.

If you're working with a Ticket to Work service provider, like an Employment Network (EN) or State Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) agency, they can help you request accommodations. They'll guide you through the process of discussing and disclosing your disability with the employer and may help you suggest what accommodations may help you best.

Accessible and assistive technologies

The availability and evolution of technology has created a wealth of opportunities for people with disabilities to succeed in the workplace. While not all reasonable accommodations require the purchase and use of technology, there are some devices and services that may help you transition to the workplace and ensure your productivity.

How can you find these resources? Here are a few options:

  • The Partnership on Employment & Accessible Technology (PEAT) is funded by the U.S. Department of Labor's ODEP. It's focused on fostering collaboration and availability of accessible technology in the workplace and educates employers, IT companies and others on why accessibility is important and valuable. If you request an accommodation and your employer needs more information, PEAT offers employer tools like a Buy IT guide for purchasing accessible technology, staff-training resources and information about why accessible technology matters.
  • AbleData offers information on accessible and assistive technology products, resources and solutions to improve productivity and ease with life's tasks. Their database includes more than 500 results for products and solutions for people who are deaf and hard of hearing!
  • The Association of Assistive Technology Act Programs (ATAP) enables individuals with disabilities, service providers and others to learn about, access, and acquire assistive technology needed for education, employment, and community living. This includes device demonstration to help familiarize you with the different technologies, and even device loans to borrow technology for a limited time to test if it meets your needs before purchasing. For those looking to buy assistive technologies themselves, ATAP also offers options to help you receive the technology you need for less – and sometimes no – money.

Support and services from Ticket to Work

Social Security's Ticket to Work (Ticket) program supports career development for people ages 18 through 64 who receive Social Security disability benefits (SSI or SSDI) and want to work. The Ticket program is free and voluntary. It helps people with disabilities move toward financial independence and connects them with the services and support they need to succeed in the workforce.

To learn more about the Ticket to Work program, you can call the Ticket to Work Help Line at 1-866-968-7842 or 1-866-833-2967 (TTY) Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET. A representative can answer questions and send you a list of service providers. Or you can use the Find Help tool to search for service providers on your own. The filters can help you find a service provider in your area that provides the services you want, and you can search specifically for a service provider with experience working with people who are deaf or hard of hearing.

To learn more about the Ticket to Work program, you can call the Ticket to Work Help Line at 1-866-968-7842 or 1-866-833-2967 (TTY) Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET. A representative can answer questions and send you a list of service providers. Or you can use the Find Help tool to search for service providers on your own. The filters can help you find a service provider in your area that provides the services you want, and you can search specifically for a service provider with experience working with people who are deaf or hard of hearing.

By working with a Ticket to Work service provider, like an Employment Network (EN) or your State Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) agency, you can access the supports and services you may need to find a job, transition to the workplace, and succeed on the path to financial independence. Working with an EN or State VR agency may also offer you access to benefits counseling. Benefits Counselors can discuss how working and earning an income will affect your benefits and help you use other Social Security Work Incentives to help you transition to financial independence with confidence.

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