Businesses welcome deaf as university turns 150

Businesses welcome deaf as university turns 150

“When Steve Walker was a student at Gallaudet University in the 1980s, he says, the school for the deaf and hard of hearing was a very different place than it is today. …Students were advised not to venture outside the campus, because most people in the surrounding neighborhood didn’t speak sign language. [They] didn’t feel welcome in the outside community, and struggled to communicate in restaurants where they couldn’t understand the servers. As the school celebrates its 150th anniversary, Walker says that has changed.

These days, the northeast Washington neighborhood around the school, including the upscale Union Market food hall next to the campus and the bars and restaurants of nearby H Street, accommodates the deaf community. Walker works at the school as a sign language interpreter for students who are both blind and deaf. He uses what’s called tactile interpreting, in which a student will hold his hands as he signs to understand him.

Walker says what is happening in the area around Gallaudet is a serious change in cultural sensitivity.”

This is why diversity and multiculturalism are so, so important to good business practices. If you ignore the needs of your client base, soon enough you won’t have any clients.

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