Employer Information re Workability III Services

Workability III (WAIII) Is a special program funded by the State of California Department of Rehabilitation. The main purpose of the program is to train and place qualified Deaf or Disabled Individuals on jobs.

Workability will assist participants with job seeking strategies, application procedures, resume writing, interview preparation, job retention skills, and provide labor market and community resource information.

We are searching to expand our Employers Database for both competitive employment and for persons willing to give informational Interviews or Tours.

Successs Sories

"Workability II has provided us with amazing and valuable employees." -- K. Trubey, Manager, REI Specialty Shop, Fremont

"My Deaf employee is one of my best. The Workability III staff alleviated concerns about safety or quality of work. Outstanding! I recommend this program to any company seeking valuable employees." -- G. Grush, General Manager, Sigh Tech, Fremont

"Qualified employees, targeted on-site training, and outstanding customer service - Ohlone College Deaf Center made it easy for us to diversify our workforce! With the help of the Workability III staff, our concerns about safety and communication quickly dissipated. Our employees have embraces the new workers and their presence has further enhanced our diverse culture." -- R.A. Laniello, HR Manager, Orcon Corporation, Hayward

"Working with the Workability III staff is an enlightening experience. They continue to provide knowledge and resources that enable us to challenge the 'norms' of the workplace. The Deaf employees are a definite asset to our copany." -- HR, NUMMI, Fremont

Employees Who Have Hired Workability Clients (partial list)

  • State of California
  • JC Penney
  • Lowes
  • DD's
  • TJ Maxx
  • Lucky's
  • Burlington Coat Factory
  • Kohl's
  • Whole Foods
  • Marshalls
  • Social Security Administration
  • Santa Clara County Office of Education
  • Safeway
  • Fabtron
  • Costco
  • Fresh and Natural
  • Delta Protective Services
  • 99 Cent Store
  • Ohlone Bookstore
  • Purple Communication Inc.
  • Specialty Dispatch
  • Alom Technologies
  • Tivo
  • Weibel Chess
  • FedEx Grounds
  • FedEx Office
  • David's Bridal
  • Quick Stop Market
  • Macy's
  • Target
  • Sears
  • Tool Works
  • Calidad Industries
  • California School for the Deaf
  • Ticket to Work
  • Project Hired
  • Hilton Hotel
  • Ohlone College
  • Wells Fargo
  • Alameda County
  • Pepsi
  • Coca Cola
  • Diebold
  • C & H Manufacturing
  • Wingard Quality Supply
  • IRS
  • CPS Security Solutions
  • Seabreeze Landscaping
  • Denny's
  • Dominican Sisters
  • DTE
  • Marks Pro
  • For Rent Media Solutions
  • Embassy Suites Hotel
  • State Compensation Insurance Fund
  • Mervyns
  • American Greetings
  • Home Depot
  • Tilly's
  • Michael's Art and Craft Store
  • Newark Memorial High School
  • Modus Link
  • Manor Homecare
  • Walmart
  • YMCA
  • Mission Tools
  • Crow Canyon Country Club

How can we help you? If you have questions about our program, contact us at Voice (510) 742-2344, Video Phone (510) 344-5731, Fax (510) 742-2332, or e-mail dnavarrete@ohlone.edu.

Informational Interviews

An informational interview should be as close to a real interview as possible. Please follow your normal procedure so that the Deaf or Disabled Individual will get a real understanding of what a formal interview is like.

If you can provide some company literature before the interview, this will help the applicants become more familiar with the company, the department names, products.

Please provide a written itinerary of what people will be interviewing them, their names, titles and times they will be meeting each.

Please let your receptionist know that you are expecting a Deaf Applicant, so they are not turned away by accident.

Although Workability III provides interpreters for our clients, some Deaf Applicants may come from outside our program and you may want to consider providing an interpreter. Check the Interpreting Services Agencies Listing.


An internship is a paid or unpaid position of limited length that gives the Student real work experience.

Job Shadowing

With job shadowing, a Student is matched up with an employee of a company in the field that they are studying in. Job shadowing helps the Student get an idea or what the real job duties are on a daily basis.

Coordination of Services

Job Placement Specialist

  • Provides Career Exploration information and services, work site adjustments, informational interviews, and workshops.
  • Provides individual job search help to students including resume update, applications and interview practice, use of special adaptive equipment for employment.
  • Provides Job Placement services to job ready students, and follow up to ensure job retention.
  • Maintains contacts with career-related organizations.

Employment Developer

  • Develop work contracts between applicants and local businesses.
  • Provide technical and functional assistance to employers and employees.
  • Perform task analysis.
  • Train students about work rules, team work, productivity, and quality work.
  • Assist students to transition to full-time work, independent living skills as related to keeping their job.
  • Work with other work experience programs at Ohlone College.

Job Coach

  • Provide individual task analysis and training to students in the program.
  • Train Workability III clients in BASIC on-the-job employee rules, team work productivity and quality performance skills.
  • Provide follow along services for Workability III students placed in work sites.
  • Establish and maintain a connection with referral sources, employers, parents, care providers, and others.

Tax Credit Information

The paperwork must be filed BEFORE the first date of hire - see the Work Opportunity Tax Credit Employer Guide (DE 8722) on the Employment Development Department website for more information.

California Relay Service

Voice users (800) 735-2922

Using a TTY (Teletypewriter for the Deaf) is similar to using a modem on the phone. It is not a translation device from voice to text. You must have a device or call through the California Relay Service (CRS). For more information about CRS, visit CTAP/DDTP website.

Accommodations for the Deaf or Hard of Hearing

Interpreters in the interview and training period

Workability III can offer interpreting services for Deaf and/or Hard of Hearing clients enrolled in our program for interviews and training periods at no cost to the employer for up to 90 days from time of hire.

The interpreter will interpret exactly what you say, but because it is a different language, with its own grammar that is different than English, it may take a while longer to interpret. The interpreter has to lag behind what you say a few seconds in order to process the words and the intent. The interpreters are required by their license to not discuss anything that occurs while interpreting. Confidentiality is strictly followed.

Real Time Captioners in the interview

The Captioners will transcribe exactly what you say. The Captioner has to lag behind a little from what you in order to process the words and the intent. The Captioners are required by their license to not discuss anything that occurs while working. Confidentiality is strictly followed.

Once a Deaf Person is on the job here are some tips

  1. While we are on the job with a student, typically during the first few days of training, it usually becomes pretty clear what concerns may arise. We try to look at the situation from all angles, considering the student's abilities and the nature of what needs to be done.

  2. If the student is comfortable reading and writing English, we try to set up a system of writing back and forth while we are still there, just so we can see that everyone involved gets used to it. Also, this allows us to make suggestions about what is being written and how to make it as clear as possible. For example, a supervisor might think it is faster to use abbreviations, but the student may have no idea what they mean. Also, if a student writes the "gloss" word for something, a boss might not understand.

  3. For many of our students who are not comfortable with written English, it is more of a challenge. We have to become very creative, while thinking of all possible daily interactions. Some examples, One student had a job in which there were several different tasks they would be responsible for at certain times. I ended up drawing a picture to represent each task, explaining it, and that way the supervisor could just point to whatever picture was needed. In some cases we have taught the co workers and supervisors anywhere from 5 to 10 signs that can be used to represent certain tasks. Basically, we try to think of any way to aid the student's success on the job while making things as smooth for the bosses as possible.


We have found in most cases the job sites do not have TTYs (Teletypewriter for the Deaf). We provide employers with information on how to get them, but that's up to the company. This is why we try to provide the students with training using the California Relay Service, so calling in sick or other similar situations can go smoothly.

Intercoms, Walkie-Talkies, and Pagers

Another common question that faced by employers is intercom systems or walkie-talkie type arrangements. Employers don't typically remember that these systems can't be used with a Deaf person, so we provide information about vibrating pagers, etc. One employer actually set up a certain path that she wanted the Deaf Student to walk while moving around the building, so if someone needed the student, they could walk that path and chances are they would find him easily.

More Information About Accommodations

There are so many different examples. Almost every "problem" has an accommodation. It's just a matter of finding employers who are flexible, and willing to step outside the norm. Danny Navarrete and Narda Mamou have gone to employers to do in-service, "how to work and interact with Deaf People" sessions. These are very helpful as well. We also provide brochures, pamphlets, posters, fingerspelling cards, and a lot of support!

Deaf Applicants or Employees

A Deaf Person is one who, even with a hearing aid, cannot access the spoken language. Deafness can occur before or after birth by maternal exposure to viruses that damage or prevent development of the auditory nerve. Examples of some of the causes could be: Rubella, high fevers, Spinal Meningitis, Industrial accidents, Medical complications, Ototoxic Drugs (usually life saving drugs that have adverse side effects), Repeated exposure to loud noise, Genetically Deaf Family traits. This is not an exhaustive list there are a myriad of other causes, and usually are not considered important by most Culturally Deaf People.

A Few Deaf Applicants may use hearing aids. These are usually set either behind the ear and or are connected to an ear mold that fits directly in the ear. These devices can add up to 25db to a person's hearing, thereby contributing to environmental sounds (i.e.. alarm systems, but unfortunately, also amplifying distortions. It is, therefore, not always beneficial to rely on only speech when communicating with a Deaf Person. Keep in mind that there will still be spoken sounds which are not heard. Writing back and forth for short conversations will reduce misunderstandings. In large group settings you may need t provide an interpreter.

Hard of Hearing Applicants or Employees

A Hard of Hearing individual is one who, with amplification, may prefer to use spoken communication or use sign language, amplification, residual hearing, or speech reading. The causes can be similar to the ones listed for Deafness.

Hearing Aids

Some Hard of Hearing Applicants may use hearing aids. These are usually set either behind the ear and or are connected to an ear mold that fits directly in the ear. These devices can add up to 25db to a person's hearing, thereby contributing to some voice reception, but unfortunately, also amplifying distortions. It is, therefore, beneficial to use a normal tone of voice when communicating with a Deaf or Hard of Hearing student. Keep in mind that there will still be spoken sounds which are not heard. Writing back and forth for short conversations will reduce misunderstandings. In large group settings you may need to provide an interpreter.

Lip Reading

Lip reading Is a skill that some Deaf or Hard of Hearing people acquire to some extent. Similar to skill with a musical instrument or drawing, the skill varies widely from individual to individual. For some it is a life time goal while others may have no desire to pursue it.

A large percentage of the Deaf Applicant or Employees in the Ohlone College Deaf Studies programs prefer American Sign Language.

The structure of speech causes approximately two thirds of the sounds either don't show at all the lips or are identical to other sounds. For example, words such as "bat" and "mad" look the same.

The choice of methods is completely up to the student. It is considered inappropriate to try to ask a Deaf Person who uses sign, to speak for a interview. Sign Language Interpreters will be provided for translation from Sign to Voice and Voice to Sign. If the applicant's preferred method is communicate Orally, it will be important to articulate clearly without distraction and at a normal pace. Any exaggeration distorts the patterns the Deaf or Hard of Hearing person has learned. Deaf or Hard of Hearing people read facial and body expressions.

Not being able to access spoken language may…

  • Effect a Deaf or Hard of Hearing person's English Language skills, But there own language may be intact.

  • Vary from individual to individual depending on many factors such as Age of onset of Deafness, Cause, Duration and Type of the illness. Age of exposure to a visual language. Age of diagnosis, family involvement, innate skills of the individuals, use of language in the home.

  • Effect written English skills. Because of lack of exposure to a method of accessing the language. (Visual not Auditory)

  • Certain speech sounds (such as the "s") are very difficult to make for the Deaf or Hard of Hearing.

  • If a applicant chooses to speak, and you don't understand ask for clarification, or rephrasing.

  • Each employer is asked to make a commitment to the individuals the person encounters in the job site. It is his or her aim to communicate clearly and to encourage mutual growth through employer-employee interaction. Deaf applicants depend primarily on visual clues, effective communication may require time, changing techniques, or rethinking how everyone can accomplish the same goals.

Suggestions for Working with Deaf or Hard of Hearing Applicants or Employees

To aid the Employer in his or her endeavor to provide the best working situation for the Deaf Applicant or Employee, the Center for Deaf Studies has organized the following suggestions.

  • Because an interpreter is unable to interpret more than one speaker, it may be necessary during group discussions to request that only one person speak at a time.

  • The interpreter is not permitted to discuss a applicant's progress, attendance, or workplace behavior with the Employer. These concerns may be directed to the student through the Job Coach with the interpreter facilitating the communication or the Deaf Applicant or Employee's Workability Counselor.

  • It is important to have the student's attention before speaking. The Deaf Applicant or Employee cannot hear the usual call to attention. He may need a tap on the shoulder, or wave, or other signals to catch the student's eye. (If there is a Sign Language Interpreter present there won't be a need for this.)

  • Try to maintain eye contact with the student. Deaf Applicant or Employees, like most people, prefer the feeling of direct communication. Eye contact establishes this feeling. Even in the presence of an interpreter, look into the Deaf Person's eyes. The student will then look at the interpreter only when you are talking and then be looking at you when they reply through the interpreter.

  • If you are misunderstood, try to rephrase a thought rather than repeating the same words. Sometimes particular combinations of lip movements are very difficult for a student to lip-read. If the person is not understanding you, try to rephrase the sentence.

  • The applicant should be seated to his or her best advantage. Generally this is up to the applicant.

  • Try to avoid standing with your back to a window or other light sources. Looking at someone standing in front of a light source makes it more difficult for the Deaf Applicant or Employee to follow the conversation. For an Oral Deaf person Lip-reading is difficult, if not impossible, since the speaker's face is left in shadow.

  • Notify the interpreter in advance when you plan to use materials that require special lighting. Since it is impossible to read Sign Language in the dark, the interpreter must have advance notice so necessary lighting can be provided.

  • A brief outline would aid the interpreter and the student to follow the lecture. It is very helpful to a Deaf Applicant or Employee to know in advance what will be studied next. The Interpreter will then have a chance to read ahead and study vocabulary. After the lecture, the Deaf Applicant or Employee can better organize his or her notes.

  • Try to present new vocabulary in advance. If this is impossible, try to write new vocabulary on the chalkboard or overhead projector since it is difficult, if not impossible, to lip-read or fingerspell the unfamiliar.

  • Visual aids are a tremendous help to Deaf Applicant or Employees. Since vision is a Deaf person's primary channel to receive information, a teaching aid that the person can see may help him or her assimilate this information. Make full use of chalkboards, overhead projectors, films, diagrams, charts, etc.

  • Try to avoid unnecessary pacing and speaking while writing on the chalkboard. It is difficult to lip-read a person in motion and impossible to read from behind. It is preferable to write or draw on the chalkboard, then face the class and explain the work. The overhead projector adapts readily to this type of situation.

  • Slowing the pace of communication often helps to facilitate comprehension. Speakers tend to quicken their pace when familiar with the material. In addition, there is an unavoidable time lag in the presentation when an interpreter is involved. Try to allow a little extra time for the student to ask or answer questions since the person has less time to assimilate the material and to respond.

  • When vital information is presented, try to make sure the Deaf Applicant or Employee isn't left out. Write on the chalkboard any changes in class time, examination dates, special assignments, additional instructions, etc. In lab or studio situations, allow extra time when pointing out the location of materials, referring to manuals or texts, etc., since the Deaf Applicant or Employee must look, then return his or her attention for further instruction.

  • If the student is and Oral Deaf person, speak slowly and clearly, enunciating each word, but without exaggerating or over pronouncing. Although it is necessary to speak slowly and clearly, exaggeration and overemphasis distorts lip movements, making lip-reading more difficult. Try to enunciate each word, but without force or tension. Short sentences are easier to understand than long sentences.

  • Some Oral and some Deaf Applicant or Employees who sign use a special service commonly referred to as a Captioner (or Real-time Captioner). This is a specially trained individual that transcribes the class lecture simultaneously with a court reporters equipment and some special software.

  • For Oral Deaf Applicant or Employees look directly at the student while speaking. Even a slight turn of the head can obscure the student's vision, making lip-reading more difficult. Avoid holding hands and books where they hide your face.

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