Working Towards Accessibility and Inclusion with HR Generalist Richelle

By Sara Porcaro | Dec 1, 2020
DHOH, Deaf Culture, Rhode Island, Disabilities, IDD, Inclusion, Accessibility, Human Services
HR Generalist Richelle Hurley

At Perspectives, we're always striving for a more inclusive work environment that lets every professional's talents shine. That's why both Deaf and hearing professionals work alongside one another, with a team of skilled American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters there to bridge communication not only between everyone at the (virtual) office, but also between individuals we support, their families, and the greater community. Beyond that, our professionals in Adult Services and Youth and Family Services who work with Deaf individuals are required to know ASL in order to communicate; they're able to take Perspectives' ASL classes for free to advance their knowledge of both the language and Deaf culture.
But one place where the agency's leadership saw an opportunity to improve was by bringing a more Deaf-friendly focus to HR--a person who understood Deaf culture well and could help facilitate trainings while also reaching out to the Deaf community to recruit new members of our teams--and that's why we're excited to have talented professional Richelle Hurley join us as the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Department's HR Generalist!
"Every day, I'm learning something new," Richelle says about her first month and a half with the agency. "I'm excited to keep learning from other leaders within the agency, and I want to do my best to help the department reach their goals."
Richelle, the child of two Deaf parents, has had Deaf culture be a part of her upbringing from the very beginning--and from there, it seemed only natural that she would have an interest in communication. Knowing both ASL and English, she decided to study communications, receiving her bachelor's and master's degree in it. She started her college career at Villanova University in Pennsylvania, enjoying college basketball alongside her studies, and that was where she also started as a Resident Assistant in the dorms--a job she found she enjoyed, and one she pursued at a different college in Worcester, Massachusetts later on, as her original goals of working in Public Relations turned out to be something she wasn't interested in.
"I always loved the 'nerd side' of communication," she said, "but I knew I wanted to do something helpful, impactful, more like what I was doing as an RA than what I experienced in my public relations internships."
"I wanted to do something helpful, impactful, more like what I was doing as an RA than what I experienced in my public relations internships."
While she never saw herself working in human resources, Richelle finds that the position with Perspectives is a place she can do exactly that: help others, answer questions, and be a bridge for communication with those in the Deaf community who are looking to start a new career path. There are many pieces to the role of an HR Generalist; some responsibilities include interviewing applicants, attending job fairs like the virtual job fair at Gallaudet University, and facilitating training for new employees, all with Deaf culture and ASL in mind to make it more accessible to those joining the Perspectives team. She and the rest of the department also make sure to stay connected via Slack It's important work that Perspectives values, and Richelle notices just how much emphasis the agency puts on accessibility.
"There's so much accessibility for Deaf team members here," she says. In that regard, Perspectives is cutting edge for the sake of its professionals and individuals it supports, as Richelle says, "When I went to the Gallaudet career fair, I remember students being impressed with us having a full-on DHOH department with Deaf leadership and ASL interpreters and staff. It's really cool to be a part of something new like this."
For Richelle, whose goal is to bring her talents to a place she knows they'll make a positive impact, the role is something exciting--especially as she surrounds herself with like-minded teammates. While there's much to learn in her new role, she knows she's part of a team that's always there to support and encourage her, and she notes just how welcoming and friendly everyone has been since she's joined the agency. Perspectives is excited to have Richelle aboard as she works to help the DHOH department achieve their goals, as well as establish the department within the Deaf community, and we're looking forward to the great things she'll continue to achieve!


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