Mac aims to assist businesses on serving the deaf and hard of hearing community

March 6, 2019 | 1:59 PM

Students, faculty and staff from MacMurray College completed a video and a training manual designed to assist human resource departments and local businesses in implementing a welcoming environment for the deaf and hard of hearing community.
“The purpose of the training manual and accompanying video is to give concise tips and other information to human resource staff, local businesses and managers who train staff, that could be used for training purposes,” Dr. Joe Squillace, director of the social work department at MacMurray, said.
The video, “Reach Out; Don’t Freak Out: Serving the Deaf Community,” shows and describes what not to do when working with deaf customers, and then follows with appropriate ways of interacting. The manual mirrors the video with some basic information about working closely with customers and provides additional sources for training videos.
“If businesses understand how to work with Deaf customers, where people feel welcomed, it will increase customer traffic, and ultimately revenue for the business,” Squillace said. “A goal was to keep the video short (5 minutes), and training manual concise with additional references to resources so individuals can go deeper into these issues if they desire. It can be used at a weekly staff meeting, or to train new employees.”
The project was first conceptualized by Squillace, social work students Codi Poe and Megan Gillis, and American Sign Language-Interpreting students Randa Freeze and Brittany Foldes.
“The project grew out of previous research we had done with the Jacksonville Commission on Disabilities and Human Relations regarding access to services in Jacksonville,” Squillace said. “Survey respondents expressed concerns about treatment at local businesses and wanted to have more welcoming environments created.” 
Dr. Jeannie Zeck, professor of English, and Susan Hall, assistant professor in interpreting, assisted with video production with the Office of Communications and Marketing at MacMurray.

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