Advocates for Access Teaches Local Businesses Sign Language

Published 07/21 2014 06:07PM

Updated 07/21 2014 06:20PM

PEKIN - As a TV station we know that good communication in the work place is vital, but what happens when one of your employees can’t hear?

The local non-profit, Advocates for Access, is doing its part to bridge the gap between the hearing impaired and their coworkers.

Amanda Dudgeon provides a unique service.

“Amanda is a great teacher,” said Director of Administrative Services at Pekin Insurance.

She teaches local businesses sign language, so they can communicate with employees who are hearing impaired. Like Shonnie Allen, who works as a janitor at Pekin Insurance. .

“We've been very impressed that she has really helped us with our communication with Shonnie.”

“We operate a lot of machinery too. So it's vital that he understands what we're talking about and vice versa,” said Michael Osenkarski, Allen’s Job Supervisor.

But here’s the catch, Dudgeon is also hearing impaired.

“I've been there. I understand the troubles.”

Dudgeon’s parents realized she was deaf at age two. Since then she’s gone through a lifetime’s worth of programs to improve her communication skills. That makes her the perfect person for her job at Advocates for Access.

“I hope to, um, close that gap of miscommunication between the employee and the deaf.”

Allen appreciates his new ability communicate with his coworkers.

“I feel like I'm very much involved,” said Allen as Dudgeon translated.

What Dudgeon teaches depends on who she is working with.

During her four-week programs, she focuses on words specific to each company, as well as terms that are a bit more common.

“Like how are you. How was your day. Um, I will see you tomorrow.”

And even though her students say learning sign language is a little difficult.

Dudgeon says the challenge is worth the reward of making those who are hearing impaired feel more welcomed.

“We really like to make the best out of it for the job. Because I know all of the deaf people want to feel involved.”

Advocates for Access is a non-profit based out of Peoria Heights. It empowers those who are impaired by putting their skills to use.
It also helps those with disabilities live  independently.
To learn more about the non-profit and hire Dundgeon to work for your business, visit

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