Subject Area

Public Policy, Rehabilitation Counseling


More than 50 years of nondiscrimination legislation in the United States has resulted in greater diversity in the workplace; however, questions persist about the communication equity of Deaf employees who use a signed language. In this study, we investigate systemic factors that underlie the provision of signed language interpreting services in the workplace. Using the Critical Incident Technique, observations were collected from 17 Deaf professionals regarding the systems of interpreter provision at work. The data resulted in four main findings: (1) Deaf professionals hold a sophisticated understanding of their communication needs, (2) both quality and quantity of interpreting are important, (3) effective systems are necessary for the provision of equitable communication access, and (4) the pursuit of cost savings usually results in less equitable systems. The aim of this paper is to offer evidence-based data that can guide employers in creating communication access and equity for Deaf employees.