As the new employee has a condition covered by the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) the employer is required by law to ask the employee what accomodations are needed to perform adequately in the job.
Obviously, as you have already noted this person cannot perform in exactly the same way as other employees. The ADA recognizes that and has provided guidance on performance and conduct standards
for people with disabilities. So, as described by ADA Questions and Answers
page, you have rightly asked what reasonable accomodation should be made for a deaf individual. An excerpt from the ADA Q&A:
Q. What kinds of auxiliary aids and services are required by the ADA to ensure effective communication with individuals with hearing or vision impairments?
A. Appropriate auxiliary aids and services may include services and devices such as qualified interpreters, assistive listening devices, notetakers, and written materials for individuals with hearing impairments; and qualified readers, taped texts, and Brailled or large print materials for individuals with vision impairments.
At minimum you need to see to safety requirements. Fire alarms need to have a visual cue, for example a flashing light, and egress points need to be clearly and easily identified.
The Job Accomodation Network
provides business resources for accomodations, in this case for the hearing impaired. I understand you are busy, but I strongly encourage you to review that page because it gives a lot of EEOC-sanctioned guidance that I would just be repeating.
It has occurred to me that you could learn basic sign language such as
1) How is it going here?
2) What is the problem?
3) What do you need for your job?
So then the person will need a way to respond to you in a manner you can understand. To simplify things it seems worthwhile to make a placard with a series of written simple responses which comprise a list of typical job-related requests that this person could just point to, and use a tablet for him to provide details. I saw a reusable scribble pad at Staples called the Boogie Board
. (It's cheaper at Amazon.com) A small dry erase board
may also work fine.
Then there is the matter of job instructions. When demonstrations don't suffice, instructions will need to be complete and detailed enough to replace the long verbal explanations that so often replace actual written procedures. If you want to give verbal training, an interpreter may be needed. There is software available called Signtel Interpreter
. I am not affiliated with Signtel, and I do not know how accurate it is - but it looks pretty neat.
The Laurent Clerc National Deaf Education Center
lists resource providers by state.
During the research for this post I have seen that costs of accomodations you supply can be written off your business taxes. Please ask your accountant for details so you can keep the needed documents for writeoffs.
I am really glad to learn you are so far pleased with this employee, and I hope that you and he will more fully explore his potential with you. It could be very rewarding! Kudos for taking these early first steps.