Published 09.18.23

Cintas’ deaf employee-partners find inclusion at work

Deaf and hard of hearing employee-partners thrive in various roles at the company.

CINCINNATI - International Week of Deaf People is recognized around the world between Sept. 18 and 24. And during the week, Cintas highlights its deaf and hard of hearing employee-partners who support the company’s efforts to build a better workday for its customers and employee-partners.  


Created by the World Federation of the Deaf, the observance advocates for people who are deaf and helps create unity and support. The week also highlights the achievements of deaf people, promotes their rights and educates the public about the abilities deaf and hard of hearing people bring.  


The deaf community provides valuable contributions in many Cintas locations across North America. They often come to work at Cintas through long-standing relationships with organizations that help place workers with disabilities. They also help provide American Sign Language translators so Cintas and other employers can communicate more effectively with deaf and hard of hearing employee-partners.  


Cintas locations work with the organizations to provide a unique, supportive and accessible workplace and help position each employee-partner to thrive in their roles with the company. 


Cintas’ ability and willingness to accommodate hard of hearing partners has not been lost on Lauren, a Program Manager based in Cincinnati who has cochlear implants. When she was hired in 2020, her manager connected her with an employee-partner in the company’s IT department named Joe who helped find a solution to difficulties when using her phone. 


Joe researched devices and technologies that could connect her cochlear implants to her laptop by Bluetooth. He installed a notification system that pops up on Lauren’s computer to alert her to a phone call. He also set up an accessory that paired with her implants to stream all phone calls, Teams calls, and video presentations directly into her “ears.”  


“His extra step and Cintas’ exceptional ability to truly partner with every employee-partner that walks through the doors is what makes me excited to work for Cintas,” Lauren said. “I’m proud to be an employee-partner at Cintas and I can’t wait for even newer technology that will make accessibility even easier at Cintas.” 


Millissa R., a deaf partner, who is a heat sealer at the Union, N.J. Rental location, also appreciates the friendly, welcoming environment at Cintas she’s experienced since joining the company in 2013.   


“Whether you are hearing or deaf, people are just here for you at Cintas,” Millissa said. “They support you and want to see you succeed.”  


Toby Atkinson, Cintas Director of DEI & Management Programs, said the company’s commitment to inclusion guides the company’s work to provide accommodations and supportive resources that meet a deaf person’s unique needs.  


From captioning larger Teams meetings to bringing in sign language experts as needed and providing individualized printed information to the employee-partners who could benefit from it, Cintas tries to be proactive and inclusive of all audiological abilities. 


“Since I started with the company 16 years ago, we’ve become more and more accommodating and inclusive,” Atkinson said. “Taking care of our employee-partners to help them succeed on the job is part of our culture and just how we run our business.” 


The company has put greater resources behind supporting disabled partners in recent years.  


Cintas recently launched a training course for General Managers and Human Resources employee-partners that helps them better understand deaf and hard of hearing employee-partners’ challenges on the job, how they manage their disability in the workplace, and how to help foster their psychological safety at work.  


Cintas also works with a specialized vendor that provides instructor-led courses compatible with the learning system to help further reach diverse communities – including the deaf community.  


“Raising awareness and telling the stories of employee-partners who are deaf, deafened or hard of hearing is important for us as we treat all of our employee-partners with respect and appreciation. Treating people the right way is woven into the fabric of our culture and we continue to make progress in incorporating inclusion in as many ways as possible,” Atkinson said. 


Cintas continues to develop relationships with organizations across North America that help connect deaf and hard of hearing people with employers and provide them meaningful employment opportunities.