A variety of workplace accommodations exist today for various communications situations involving deaf employees.  Contact the NTID Center on Employment or consult your deaf employee to access these systems or get more information.

Telecommunications encompasses a range of communication technologies that involve the use of phone lines. 


Relay Services include  telephone relay systems that can help deaf and hearing colleagues communicate over the telephone by providing a simultaneous, three-way communication among a deaf person, a communication assistant (CA) and another person


Debriefing is a strategy that involves meeting one-to-one with deaf employees after meetings and other presentations to ensure that everything is clear.

Captioning is a process of converting the audio portion (dialogue and sounds) of a video production into text. Typically, this text is displayed across the bottom of the screen over a black background.

One form of captioning is real time captioning. This can occur during a live event or large meeting. Usually while a camera films the people who talk, a captionist types the words into a computer which displays the speakers’ words across the bottom of a video screen. A captionist is much like a stenographer who may or may not actually be at the event or in the meeting. If the captionist is in another location, the captionist hears the spoken words via telephone and types and transmits the text back on another phone line where it is converted into words which are fed to the video screen.

Computers  can facilitate communication in the workplace in a variety of ways.

  • Instant Messaging allows users to exchange text messages online in real time.
  • E-mail allows users to send and receive messages online, but not in real time.
  • C-print is a computer-assisted system for transcribing speech to print. It involves a hearing captionist typing words as they are being spoken and provides a real-time text display that the deaf person can read.
  • Speech synthesizers provide synthesized voice output of letters, phonemes, words, or phrases typed on a keyboard.
  • Automatic speech recognition transcribes a single person's spoken message, voiced into a microphone, into text displayed on a computer screen.
  • Computer-assisted notetaking allows notes and graphics to be typed almost simultaneously and displayed with overhead projectors for all to view.

Assistive Listening Systems are helpful for people who have difficulty hearing in large groups, at a distance, or in noisy environments.

  • A telephone amplifier enables some deaf and hard-of-hearing people to use the telephone by increasing the volume of the phone.
  • An induction loop is a wire circling a given area connected to an amplifier and the speaker's microphone. These are often used in meeting and presentation rooms.
  • An FM system has a microphone/transmitter and a receiver that allows the listener to use a headset, earphone, or hearing aid which pick up the sound directly from the transmitter. 
  • An infrared system uses an emitter and a special receiver headset that picks up "infrared" light containing sound signals that are then directed into the ear.

Visual Alerting Equipment

Environmental Accommodations  may include physical plant adjustments that improve visibility, reduce distracting noises and improve safety. Some such adjustments might be:

  • Changing/adding lighting to enhance visibility.
  • Blocking out extraneous noise to eliminate disturbances.
  • Posting directional and safety signs as well as room numbers.
  • Adding vision panels to doors and walls to improve lines of sight.
  • Using round or oval tables for group discussions.
  • Installing convex mirrors to allow pedestrians to see what's coming down hidden corridors.
Woman holding and typing into pager.


Today, Deaf and hard-of-hearing people use pagers as hearing people use cell phones. For example one type of pager Deaf people us is the Blackberry. It delivers email messages, Instant messages and relay message. Deaf callers can connect with a relay operator from virtually anywhere. The relay operator then connects with a hearing person using standard telephone and relays the conversation between the two callers.

Woman signing to videophone display.


The videophone is direct one-on-one communication. Deaf people can see and talk to deaf or hearing friends or workers who know sign language using web cameras and high speed internet access.

People conducting a meeting and watching a display of interpreter on monitor.


VRI enables deaf and hearing individuals who are in the same location to easily conduct conversations through a live remote interpreter, video conferencing technology, and a high-speed internet connection.

Man standing and signing in front of equipment that transmits his image to remote location, interpreter seated, monitor shows him the people at remote location.


Videoconferencing brings people at different sites together for a meeting, including an interpreter if desired, using a telephone or internet connection. In addition to audio and video, documents as well as computer-displayed, written, typed or drawn information can be shared.

Woman seated and typing into tty.


Teletypewriter (TTY) - also called Telecommunications Devices for the Deaf (TDD) or Text Telephone (TT). These devices look similar to typewriter keyboards. To communicate directly, each caller must have a TTY. If one party doesn't have a TTY, the telecommunications relay service (TRS) may be used. Many deaf people are now using more current technologies.

Three images : the deaf caller typing at keyboard, the relay assistant at keyboard with headset, the heafing person talking into telephone. Text says Type to Talk.


Deaf caller contacts online relay communications assistant. Communications assistant connects with hearing telephone user. Hearing user voices message which the communications assistant types to the deaf relay caller.