Innovative Inclusion works with companies that employ or interact with Deaf or Hard of Hearing individuals during their course of business to create an extraordinary organizational culture that supports diversity, inclusion and communication through ADA compliant accessibility, cultural awareness, and effective communication.

Following the roadmap laid out in our groundbreaking programs, organizations are able to minimize risk and liability, while overcoming any specific challenges associated with providing communication access for Deaf and Hard of Hearing individuals in their business. Our clients seek to understand their legal obligations under the Americans with Disabilities Act, explore appropriate and affordable accessibility options, and discover the financial and social benefits of working with the more than 20 million Deaf and Hard of Hearing individuals across the United States.

Innovative Inclusion offers ADA compliance consulting, cultural competency workshops for staff and management, employee training materials, and ongoing support services on a national level to ensure success for organizations that have Deaf and Hard of Hearing workforce or clientele.


Innovative Inclusion offers state of the art educational and consulting services to help organizations establish effective communication with Deaf or Hard of Hearing employees and clients, maximize investment in human capital, and take actionable steps that demonstrate an ongoing commitment to diversity. The benefits of accessibility and inclusion extend to every level of an organization, enabling access to a wider customer base while achieving greater productivity and improving job satisfaction.















Including Deaf and Hard of Hearing Employees During the Holidays

how-to-be-deaf-hard-of-hearing-inclusive-at-workplace-ada-01The Holidays Season is generally regarded as a time of togetherness and good will. It is a time when we gather to eat, drink, and be merry with the many people who enrich our daily lives. Unfortunately, the holidays can also be a time when those who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing are further marginalized at plays, pageants, parties, dinners, and other events when they are not able to access communications. These social gatherings— where stories, jokes, and common experiences are shared— are important for building rapport and creating strong relationships. Ensuring holiday events are inclusive for those with hearing loss is an easy way to embrace the true spirit of the season!


deaf-awareness-at-work-business-company-corporation-ada-consultant-02In situations where there is a lot of background noise (such as music or other conversation) or when there are multiple people speaking, especially all at once, those who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing will struggle to keep up with conversation. After years of being excluded from conversations, they may fall back on smiling and nodding along, laughing when everyone else does, when in truth they have lost the thread entirely.

In professional settings it is extremely common for those who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing to be left out of Holiday events by coworkers and managers who simply haven’t even considered their abilities and limitations. While office parties and seasonal outings may not seem like a big deal, employees with hearing loss can miss chances to build personal bonds with coworkers, and lose valuable opportunities to network with new professional colleagues. In these settings, hearing employees gain an advantage because they are able to gain an understanding of professional dynamics and office politics by observing the subtle communications between peers and management, while those who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing are left to fill in the blanks.


deaf-friendly-inclusive-holiday-work-events-03Simply considering the fact that those who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing have different communication needs is the first step toward creating an inclusive Holiday Season. Since deafness exists on a spectrum, there is no one-size-fits-all solution for bridging the communication gap; each individual has their own way of adapting to life in a predominantly hearing society. One person who is Hard of Hearing with cochlear implants might only use only verbal communication, while another may prefer American Sign Language. Some Deaf individuals use ASL, while others are exceptionally skilled lip readers who can voice for themselves.

As a rule, the best way to begin creating full communication access for those who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing is to just ask those individuals how they prefer to be accommodated! This is an easy, yet often overlooked, way to develop meaningful connections. Involving employees in the process of creating inclusion can open up a dialogue about hearing loss and accessibility in the workplace that makes Deaf or Hard of Hearing employees feel respected and valued.

“I attempt to communicate with hearing and deaf people every day to break barriers,” Vicky Foster explains. “However, to have hearing people, who lack knowledge on Deaf culture, continue to exclude us from workplaces and social events instead of learning to communicate with us — they miss out on this unique and authentic culture of ours.”


co-employees-workplace-inclusivity-tips-ideas-04A person with hearing loss is inevitably going to struggle to keep up with conversation at a holiday cocktail party in a dimly lit bar where 3 people are speaking at once in a room that has an echo. Taking into account the acoustics of a venue or the layout for an event can go a long way toward creating accessibility. For example, choosing a round table for dinner gives Deaf/ HoH individuals a better opportunity to read the lips, gestures, and facial cues of everyone around them. Selecting an adequately lit location where sounds do not bounce around can save Deaf/ HoH attendees a literal headache. Small adjustments like this can be made at little to no cost.

For Deaf individuals whose primary language is ASL, a sign language interpreter will typically be the most effective means of ensuring communication access. Hiring interpreters can provide both Deaf and hearing staff with the ability to freely communicate during casual holiday gatherings, which demonstrates a commitment to including all team members in conversation. By recognizing that there are professional repercussions for being left out of social interactions, and addressing this issue head on, organizations can foster cultural awareness and cultivate space for greater diversity among their workforce and clientele.

On the other side of the equation, it’s critical to ensure that hearing employees are comfortable and confident interacting with a person who is Deaf or Hard of Hearing— especially if that person is their colleague!

“I have attended several [office] holiday parties- and always sat with my coworkers who were deaf or even socialized with our interpreters for the party,” says Diana Abayeva, a Social Worker who is Deaf. “No other hearing individuals socialized with us or asked us to participate in games. as a result of this, i do not enjoy attending holiday parties at work.”

how-create-inclusive-workplace-deaf-employees-ada-consultant-05Too often, those who are unfamiliar with the experience of hearing loss and Deaf culture aren’t intentionally excluding their Deaf/ HoH peers, they simply feel awkward and unsure about how to approach this person or hold a conversation. Once hearing employees understand that they can gently tap a person who is Deaf/ HoH to get their attention, that they may need to face Hard of Hearing individuals directly while speaking (and be prepared to repeat themselves!), or how to work with sign language interpreters, these staff members can start to really integrate.

“My biggest struggles at work are centered on not catching everything, causing me not being able to participate as I would like to,” said to Claire Scanlon, who is Hard of Hearing and uses primarily oral communication. “My inability to participate and prove my impact on the organization is severely affected by my inability to catch everything being said.”

By empowering all employees with the cultural awareness and tools they need to effectively bridge communication gaps, a business begins to establish a foundation for full inclusion. More professional networking opportunities and genuine connections can remove barriers to advancement, improve morale, and set Deaf and Hard of Hearing employees up for long-term career success!


employees-coworkers-disabilities-ofiice-party-holiday-ada-06Innovative Inclusion is thrilled to work with organizations of every type to find new ways to establish an accessible, welcoming environment for Deaf and Hard of Hearing employees during the Holiday Season, and every time of year!

Click here to learn more about Innovative Inclusion Cultural Competency Training, or to refer a company for our training programs! We offer nationwide training from Deaf and Hard of Hearing consultants that can be custom tailored to meet the access and inclusion needs of any business. Our programs are offer results individually, or can be combined to create a comprehensive ongoing training program that can be streamlined into any existing organizational processes.

Creating an Inclusive Workplace

consultant-for-inclusion-deaf-employees-in-business-company-corporation-01Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion initiatives have many tangible benefits that can reach every level of an organization. A comprehensive Inclusion plan can improve customer relationships, increase employee engagement, and cultivate an organizational culture that truly sets a business apart.

Without a sense of intention and clear set of goals, however, Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion are simply words. How can an organization create real actions surrounding efforts to welcome marginalized individuals?

An article published in the New York Times revealed that employers were 34% less likely to hire an experienced job candidate with a disability, and 15% less likely to hire a novice candidate with a disability. This study suggests what those in the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community already know: although Diversity and Inclusion are modern buzzwords, putting these concepts into practice remains a challenge.

Deafness in the Workplace

ada-consulting-agency-for-corporate-company-diversity-deaf-employees-02The National Deaf Center at The University of Texas at Austin reports that only approximately 48% of Deaf and Hard of Hearing adults in the United States are currently employed. Those who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing face employment obstacles beginning with the job interview. Deaf / HoH job candidates face the difficult decision of revealing their disability to a potential employer, knowing full well how this might impact their chances of getting hired.

If they are able to secure a job, Deaf/HoH employees are often left struggling to access communications and participate in workplace conversations. Over time, an employee who feels left out will become disengaged and uninspired.

A 2016 Deaf Jobseeker survey conducted by TotalJobs revealed that more than half of Deaf and Hard of Hearing employees reported facing discrimination at some point during their career due to their hearing loss. Approximately 1 in 4 of the survey’s respondents reported leaving a job as a result of discrimination.

Benefits of Deaf Employees

best-ada-consultant-usa-for-deaf-inclusion-diversity-03Deaf or Hard of Hearing employees have the potential to be superstars on any team. They bring to the table a unique set of skills and perspectives. There are many reasons to hire Deaf/ HoH employees.

Those who are Deaf/ HoH are typically adaptable, talented communicators with strong interpersonal skills. Studies have shown that workers with hearing loss are dependable, loyal, and responsible; with overall positive job performance ratings and among the highest safety ratings in the workforce. Many Deaf job candidates are eager to get a foot in the door and for the opportunity to build a career, demonstrating focus and commitment to companies that recognize their value.

A 2017 study in the Harvard Business Review demonstrated that teams with greater cognitive diversity solve problems more quickly and with better results. Employees who are Deaf/HoH, as a result of their background and personal experiences, may think of ideas or point out potential that no one else on the team had even considered. They might see a flaw, or an opportunity, or a connection, or a consumer perspective that could have been overlooked without the right insight. These contributions flow more freely when employees feel supported and included on the team!

The Cycle of Inclusion

best-ada-consultant-usa-for-employees-with-disabilities-04Once an organization has established effective ongoing inclusion practices, an ecosystem is created where the company increasingly attracts diversity among employees and customers.

Organizations with a strong reputation for providing accessibility and support naturally gain the attention of people from marginalized communities who face disproportionately higher rates of unemployment and are often disenfranchised through poor customer service experiences. People from these groups are typically looking for these types of opportunities and are eager to spread the word about progressive organizations.

Taking Action

Now for the big question: How can an organization take the next step toward creating a diverse and inclusive workplace that welcomes individuals who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing and makes them feel like they truly belong?

consultants-for-diversity-programs-corporate-per-ada-law-05While employee communication can be accomplished with a few minor workflow adjustments, inclusion is a constant learning and unlearning process that slowly erodes unconscious bias. A workplace that supports diversity is one that provides everyone with tools and resources for professional and personal development, and challenges people to stand outside of their own experiences.

Cultural Competency Training is the key that unlocks inclusion potential. Organization-wide structural change comes from both the top down, and from the bottom up. Implementing a consistent employee education program that is culturally competent ensures that everyone from management to staff receives training that is not only thorough, but actually effective. When training programs are created and implemented by the individuals they are intended to serve, they achieve tangible results with greater impact and longevity.

Contact ii Today

Innovative Inclusion helps find new ways to establish an accessible, welcoming environment for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Community at public organizations and private companies of any size and type. Our programs are offer results individually, or can be combined to create a comprehensive ongoing training program that can be streamlined into any existing organizational processes.

Contact us to learn more about Innovative Inclusion Cultural Competency Training, or to refer a company for our training programs! We offer nationwide training from Deaf and Hard of Hearing consultants that can be custom tailored to meet the access and inclusion needs of any business.

Empowering Employees to be Deaf Aware


ada-consultant-for-businesses-employers-with-deaf-employees-01Nearly 15% of Americans report living with some level of hearing loss: this is 1 in every 6 people. Is everyone working at your company prepared to engage with those who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing in an effective and productive way? As representatives of your organization, are employees empowered to provide reasonable ADA compliant accommodations for deaf customers, clients, or coworkers whenever appropriate?

Over the years, many organizations have learned the hard way that even one employee who is not ADA-workplace-working-with-deaf-employees-02Deaf-aware can unfortunately cost the company in both money and reputation. Police departments, for example, still fall behind when it comes to anti-bias training, as demonstrated by this recent incident in California where an elderly Deaf woman was violently thrown to the ground for jaywalking, or the 2012 case where the NYPD wrongfully arrested and detained a Deaf woman who was later awarded a $750,000 settlement, or of course the 2017 case of Magdiel Sanchez who was tragically killed by police in front of his own home in Oklahoma City. Major corporations can be held accountable for the discriminatory behaviors of employees, as Taco Bell, The Cheesecake Factory, and most recently KFC have all faced backlash due to insufficient cultural sensitivity training.


understanding-working-deaf-hard-of-hearing-employees-employers-usa-ada-03The experience of hearing loss is different for every person: so there is no one-size-fits all solution for communication. Some people are born deaf and learn sign language from infancy, others get cochlear implants as toddlers and learn to speak and read lips, and still others may develop progressive hearing loss as young adults. Deafness is not limited by age, gender, race, or ethnicity. The Deaf and Hard of Hearing Community is extremely diverse, and the communication strategies of Deaf/HoH individuals can vary widely based on a person’s background.

The most effective way to establish communication with someone who is Deaf or Hard of Hearing is to ask the right questions and let them lead the conversation. People who are Deaf or HoH live with their hearing loss every single day, and they are skilled at utilizing certain strategies for sharing information and receiving information from others. Simply asking for a person’s preferred communication method (and respecting their choice) is a great way to open up the dialogue.


corporate-employers-ada-compliance-info-consultants-04Creating an inclusive workplace is about more than just being able to communicate; it’s about understanding the differing needs of people and having compassion for one another’s experience. Employees who engage in cultural competency training facilitated by members of the Deaf Community are empowered with the knowledge and tools they need to form meaningful connections. Training with Deaf consultants and program leaders, staff members have the ability to gain firsthand insight into the silent world of Deaf America, ask questions in a safe environment, and widen their overall perspective.


ada-graphics-notices-for-employers-businesses-ada-consultants-05A manager who is culturally competent may be able to spot hidden potential in a Hard of Hearing employee and offer the support they need to tap into their talents. Thus, by learning practical approaches to inclusion, the company is able to increase employee loyalty and see better return on investment.

A cashier who has participated in a cultural competency program might attract a number of local Deaf/HoH individuals to become regular customers because they are so confident and friendly interacting with members of this community. When employees have the training and tools they need to create lasting connections with Deaf and Hard of Hearing coworkers, employees, clients or customers, the company can begin to reap the benefits of diversity.


Innovative Inclusion helps find new ways to establish an accessible, welcoming environment for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Community at public organizations and private companies of any size and type. Click here to learn more about Innovative Inclusion Cultural Competency Training, or to refer a company for our training programs! We offer nationwide training from Deaf and Hard of Hearing consultants that can be custom tailored to meet the access and inclusion needs of any business.

ADA Consultants for all types of Organizations

Creating new relationships between Businesses and Deaf Employees

Innovative Inclusion creates a world of connectivity and open communication by developing strong ongoing relationships within the Deaf community. Our network of Deaf consultants and advisors have the knowledge and firsthand experience to implement effective solutions for accessibility and inclusion at any organization.

Nationwide Team

Working closely with expert teams of Deaf Advocates across the country, we embody a culture of partnership, education, leadership and, most importantly: Empowerment!

The Innovative Inclusion team is always growing and expanding to include new people and organizations. We strive to create connections that amplify each individual contribution and uplift the work of our partners. Innovative Inclusion seeks to collaborate with professionals on every level in every field to create opportunities that are both collaborative and strong.

Advocacy for the Deaf Community

As a community-led organization, Innovative Inclusion places high value on creating new connections. We’re always seeking motivated individuals to add to our growing network.

Do you have a passion for advocacy work? Do you have experience advocating for your rights or the rights of others? Do you have an interest in sharing common cultural knowledge? Maybe you’ve already been advocating and at times you feel like you’re working alone? We like to connect with people in a wide array of professions from diverse backgrounds and personal experiences.

Do you want to advocate on the behalf of the deaf and Hard of Hearing community? Maybe you have the background to lead a cultural competency workshop? Or are you qualified to offer consulting in another capacity? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then GET INVOLVED!


We provide Individualized Services that can be customized specifically for your organization’s needs.

We partner with businesses to apply innovative new strategies for communicating, connecting, and creating stronger relationships between hearing employees and the d/Deaf/Hard of Hearing community. We work closely with companies to leverage the variety of talents at their organization and the expertise of the d/Deaf/HoH stakeholders at Innovative Inclusion in a way that creates clear pathways for communication and progressive cultural understanding.

Our services are highly effective to meet specific needs within an organization, or can be combined to develop a comprehensive inclusion and accessibility training program.

Call us today at 917-979-9929 or send us an email for a consultation.