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October 2, 2023

Here’s a Feel-Good Story About an Accounting Firm Going the Extra Mile for Its People

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Came across this story about a Michigan accountant with hearing loss whose firm stepped up to accommodate her and thought it would be good to share because not all news is bad. Perhaps it will inspire other firms to think about steps they can take to make sure their people are empowered to do their best work.

Masking requirements during the pandemic presented an extra set of challenges for Megan Howe, who was diagnosed as profoundly deaf at age 2. Lip reading is one of the ways she communicates with others.

Her employer, the certified public accounting firm of Hungerford Nichols, stepped up and provided clear face masks to her co-workers to improve accessibility in the workplace.

The firm had previously arranged for closed captioning of meetings so Howe — and others with auditory disabilities — could follow conversations and participate in discussions in real time.

Howe says she endeavors to be her own best advocate. She doesn’t hesitate to remind people to face her when speaking, or that she’ll need closed captioning for meetings involving multiple people.

“Everybody here wanted to make sure Megan had everything she needed to be successful,” says Heather Halligan, marketing manager at Hungerford Nichols, which has a goal of increasing diversity, equity and inclusion among its workforce. “Too often, disabilities like Megan’s — which are not obvious — are the last to be considered in DEI initiatives. Gender, race, and disabilities that require a wheelchair are more apparent. Hiring qualified staff with hidden disabilities may require intentionality.”

Megan, 33, has worked for the 140-person West Michigan firm for four years. She appeared in the book “Deaf and Hard of Hearing Certified Public Accountants, Second Volume” which tells the stories of eight deaf and hard of hearing certified public accountants and is now on my reading list because that sounds interesting. “She is vivacious, charismatic, and gregarious,” reads the profile in The Lakeshore. “She’d be high on the guest list of someone throwing a party.”

When she received her bachelor’s in accounting, her hearing dog Blarney received his own honorary degree.

Accountant with hearing loss advocates for her success [The Lakeshore]

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