Subject Area

Rehabilitation Counseling, Social Work


Despite the existence of the Americans with Disabilities Act (1990), workers who are deaf still struggle with reasonable accommodations in the workplace. The challenges relate, in part, to knowledge and training deficits among hearing supervisors. In order to understand the difference between supervisor knowledge and advocate knowledge around reasonable accommodation, focus groups were conducted with two populations: (1) supervisors in retail and food service who were all hearing, and (2) advocates engaged in training and education around deaf accommodation needs, who were either deaf or hearing. Findings identify similarities and disparities between the groups, highlighting that, while specific legal knowledge of reasonable accommodation may be low among supervisors, willingness to accommodate creatively and learn adaptive strategies is high among both supervisors and advocates. Working relationships that simultaneously foster familiarity with hearing loss and general collegiality contribute to understanding of reasonable accommodation. These insights may serve as guidance for the development of training tools and expand knowledge about deafness in the workplace.