In 2018, Amazon began an ASL program focused on hiring interpreters as full-time employees. The interpreters work with the same group of people. This eliminates the need for a constant catch up as a daily interpreter would need.
This necessary accessibility is helping deaf employees such as Michael Nesmith. Nesmith is an art director at Amazon and has never had access to a full-time interpreter at any of his previous jobs.
In our [deaf] culture, we don’t really see deafness as a disability. We see it as a unique culture with a language and with an education system that is different from the mainstream,” Nesmith told Forbes through his interpreter Jeff Williamson. “What’s important is to have access to language. So that’s the only thing that really makes, from the outside perspective, my disability unique.”
Nesmith no longer has to worry about hiring a day interpreter and can better focus on the work he needs to finish rather than the inaccessibility in the workplace.
Each interpreter is a full-time employee at Amazon and interprets for two to three deaf employees.
According to Forbes, since the start of the program, more deaf and hard of hearing people are applying to work at Amazon and are being hired.
Amazon interpreter, Jennifer Mathern, explains how she appreciates Amazon’s forward thinking. She also hopes that other companies will follow the footsteps of the progressive tech company.
Hiring deaf and hard of hearing people with the proper accessibility is beneficial to companies in many aspects. Due to the perspective, deaf people view the world from, they have unique qualities that contribute to a strong work ethic. These qualities among others include being adaptable and detail oriented. Additional, there are tax benefits a company can receive when hiring someone with hearing loss.
Amazon is the first company to take a step in the right direction, hopefully, more companies will follow their footsteps in making the workplace more accessible.
Do you use an interpreter at your workplace? Let us know in the comments.