Services and equipment

Employers want to know how to communicate with a deaf or hard-of-hearing employee. Be ready to offer some suggestions when you are first meeting employers. Mention communicating with an electronic device like a computer, iPad or iPhone  is quicker than writing things back and forth. Offer to teach some basic signs to your supervisor and co-workers if you use sign language. For more information, see Communication Strategies, and Group Situations and Meetings.

For your interview, be prepared to explain some strategies, services and equipment that can be very effective in the workplace. Depending on your needs, provide information about how to obtain these services and equipment:

Sign Language Interpreters

Sign language interpreters facilitate communication between hearing people who don’t know sign language and deaf or hard-of-hearing people who use sign language. Situations that may require an interpreter are: employment interviews, orientations, training and large meetings, as well as when meeting with a supervisor about work performance. To find sign language interpreters in your area, see the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf

Video Remote Interpreting

Video Remote Interpreting (VRI) uses an off-site interpreter to facilitate communication between deaf and hearing people who can either be all together in a meeting room or in a one-to-one situation. To find information about VRI services, visit the Job Accommodation Network.

Relay Services

There are various types of relay services. Telecommunications relay services provide telephone service that allows hearing and deaf and hard-of-hearing people to communicate with each other. Telecommunications relay services are available in all U.S. states and territories for local and/or long distance calls at no additional cost to the consumer.

Video relay services (VRS) enable deaf or hard-of-hearing people who use American Sign Language and some deaf people who use their voice to communicate through video equipment such as videophone, smartphone or computer.

A) Using Sign Language

Videophone (VP): Using an internet connection, the deaf individuals uses his or her voice and speaks directly to the person they are calling.  The interpreter signs the hearing person's responses.
Smart Phone/Tablet: On a smart phone or a tablet, deaf and hard-of-hearing people can communicate with either a hearing or a deaf person.
Computer: Whether a deaf person has a PC or a Mac, a desktop or a laptop computer, if it has a webcam, she or he can download free software from video relay service (VRS) providers of his or her choice to make and receive video relay calls to or from hearing callers and point-to-point video calls when communicating with other deaf people.

B) Using Voice

Videophone (VP) uses an internet connection with which a deaf individual can use his or her voice to speak directly to the person they are calling.  The interpreter signs the hearing person's responses which the deaf person can see on a videophone monitor.

Voice Carry Over is a technology that allows people to speak directly to the person they are calling, then read that person's response on a display on their phone, videophone, tablet or computer.

Web-captioned telephone is a web-based service that allows the callers to read real-time, word-for-word transcriptions of their calls on a computer monitor or laptop. It is used by deaf or hard-of-hearing people who prefer using their own voice aided by technology to communicate by phone.”
Captioned Telephone, such as a Captel phone, has a built-in screen that displays in text everything being said by the other person.”

C) Using Text

Online Relay (includes tablets, smart phone. etc.): The online relay service allows deaf or hard-of-hearing people to use a computer or other device to type a text message. When a hearing person is speaking, the operator is typing what he or she says so the deaf person can read it. A relay operator converts text to voice and voice to text.


Notetaking is a common accommodation that can be used in a variety of situations such as everyday meetings or last minute meetings in the workplace when an interpreter is not available.

Visual Alerts
Visual Alerts

Visual Alerts

Visual alerting technology such as a doorbell, smoke alarm, telephone and weather alert signalers all can bring information about sounds that need to be brought to the deaf or hard-of-hearing individual’s attention.