World’s Largest Human Resource Association Agrees to Drastically Increase the Accessibility of Their Services for Deaf HR Professionals

Scroll to case documents

June 29, 2022Oakland, CA—Today, Disability Rights Advocates (DRA) is proud to announce that the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and three deaf human resource (HR) professionals have reached a landmark settlement agreement that will vastly increase the accessibility of SHRM’s services for its customers who are Deaf. Read the settlement agreement here.

As part of the agreement, SHRM will ensure that closed captioning compliant with the most recent version of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines is posted contemporaneously with all new, pre-recorded content that SHRM offers. Among other commitments, SHRM will also automatically provide real-time captioning and American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters for main sessions at in-person conferences and real-time captioning for all large online events. Pursuant to this agreement, SHRM will also institute an Accommodations Policy laying out a clear and streamlined process for customers to request additional reasonable accommodations.

In a joint statement, Plaintiffs Tiffany Ruffa SHRM-CP, Kathryn Canfield SHRM-CP, and Isidore Niyongabo SHRM-CSP said, “As Deaf HR professionals, this agreement will result in an increased access to SHRM’s offerings and will have a far-reaching impact on the field of Human Resources. Going forward, our colleagues who are Deaf and hard of hearing will have a more level playing field. The end goal was to obtain access and accommodations for ourselves and future generations who have a passion for HR.”

Mr. Niyongabo added, “Because of this settlement, I am more than ever proud to be a member of SHRM – now an accessible platform for learning and growth for Deaf HR professionals. The days when I would be hesitant to talk about my affiliation with (inaccessible) SHRM are now long gone and we can proudly and confidently share the benefits with current and aspiring Deaf and Hard of Hearing HR Professionals. It is a win-win for both SHRM and the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Communities.”

SHRM offers popular certifications for HR professionals that are critical for career advancement and skills development. SHRM also provides courses to prepare for its certification examinations as well as a variety of programming, most of which is eligible for credit-earning toward recertification.

All Plaintiffs were represented by Disability Rights Advocates (DRA), a non-profit disability rights legal center. DRA staff attorney, Emily Seelenfreund notes “We are thrilled that SHRM has committed to increasing the accessibility of its platform so that Deaf HR Professionals can receive the full benefits of their SHRM membership and pass on that knowledge in workplaces across the country.”

About Disability Rights Advocates

Founded in 1993, Disability Rights Advocates (DRA) is a leading national nonprofit disability rights legal center. Its mission is to advance equal rights and opportunity for people with all types of disabilities nationwide. DRA represents people with the full spectrum of disabilities in complex, system-change, class action cases. DRA is proud to have upheld the promise of the ADA since our inception. Thanks to DRA’s precedent-setting work, people with disabilities across the country have dramatically improved access to health care, employment, transportation, education, disaster preparedness planning, voting and housing. For more information, visit


Emily Seelenfreund: 510-665-8644

Meredith Weaver: 510-665-8644