The US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), Washington, DC, has issued a new question-and-answer fact sheet on the application of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to job applicants and employees who are deaf or who have hearing impairments. The new publication, the sixth in a series of Q&A documents about specific disabilities in the workplace, is available online at www.eeoc.gov/facts/deafness.html.

“One goal of this fact sheet is to counter the myth that individuals with some level of hearing loss are generally less competent, less productive, or would require more attention and supervision than their peers who do not have hearing loss,” says Cari M. Domingues, chair of the EEOC.

The issuance of the new document was announced at a town hall meeting sponsored by the National Council on Disability in observance of the 16th anniversary of the ADA.

The new Q&A publication includes many real-life examples illustrating the kinds of jobs that people with hearing loss successfully perform and the wide range of accommodations available. Topics addressed in the document include:

  • When a hearing loss is a disability under the ADA.
  • When an employer may ask an applicant or employee about a hearing impairment, and what should be done if an applicant voluntarily discloses the impairment.
  • What type of reasonable accommodation an applicant or employee with a hearing disability may need.
  • What an employer should do if there are safety concerns about an applicant or employee with a hearing impairment.

This latest publication helps advance the goals of the New Freedom Initiative, President George W. Bush’s comprehensive strategy for the full integration of people with disabilities into all aspects of American life. The New Freedom Initiative seeks to promote greater access to technology, education, employment opportunities, and community life for people with disabilities.

[SOURCE: US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, July 26, 2006]