Effectiveness of communication strategies for deaf or hard of hearing workers in group settings

Work. 2014;48(2):193-202. doi: 10.3233/WOR-131612.


Background: In group settings, background noise and an obstructed view of the speaker are just a few of the issues that can make workplace communication difficult for an individual who is deaf or hard of hearing. Accommodation strategies such as amplification of the speaker's voice or the use of text-based alternatives exist to address these issues. However, recent studies have shown that there are still unmet needs related to workplace communication in group settings for individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing.

Objective: Identify the most common strategies used by individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing to improve communication in group settings and gauge the perceived effectiveness of those strategies.

Method: An online survey was conducted with individuals who self-identified as deaf or hard of hearing. The survey presented specific communication strategies based on three functional approaches (aural/oral, text, visual). The strategies applied to both receptive and expressive communication in five different meeting types ranging in size and purpose.

Participants: 161 adults (age 22-90 yrs.) with limited hearing ability completed the survey.

Results: Text-based strategies were typically the least frequently used strategies in group settings, yet they ranked high in perceived effectiveness for receptive and expressive communication. Those who used an interpreter demonstrated a strong preference for having a qualified interpreter present in the meeting rather than an interpreter acting remotely. For expressive communication, participants in general preferred to use their own voice or signing abilities and ranked those strategies as highly effective.

Conclusions: A more accessible workplace for individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing would incorporate more ubiquitous text-based strategy options. Also, qualified interpreters, when used, should be present in the meeting for maximum effectiveness.

Keywords: Multiple speakers; expressive communication; hearing impairment; receptive communication.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Communication Aids for Disabled*
  • Communication*
  • Deafness / rehabilitation*
  • Female
  • Group Processes
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Occupational Health
  • Persons With Hearing Impairments*
  • Sign Language
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Workplace
  • Young Adult