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‘Feels like home’

Employee who is hard of hearing touts inclusion

Smiling woman stands near row of flags
Kayla Dufrene, a USPS legislative analyst who is hard of hearing, says she appreciates the organization’s efforts to find “a place for everyone.”

Kayla Dufrene clearly recalls the first time she mailed a letter.

“I was in grammar school. I dropped a letter to my grandma in a mailbox. Back then, I thought that the letter carrier took my letter and gave it to my grammy’s mailman, who gave it to her,” she said with a laugh.

Today, Dufrene is well versed in the complexities of mail acceptance, processing and delivery.

As a legislative research analyst in the Government Relations department at USPS headquarters in Washington, DC, she tracks postal-related legislation in Congress.

“There are bills that have to do with everything from mail trucks to stamps. I love to dig and find information. It gets me excited,” said Dufrene, who previously interned on Capitol Hill and for Special Olympics Maryland.

Dufrene is hard of hearing and fluent in American Sign Language (ASL). A graduate of Gallaudet University, a private university for the deaf and hard of hearing in Washington, DC, Dufrene said she enjoys working for the Postal Service because it values her abilities.

“I don’t want my hearing to be a hindrance. It is a part of who I am, not a label,” she said.

October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month, a time to recognize the contributions of employees with disabilities and promote a diverse workforce inclusive of their talents and skills.

“As an organization, the Postal Service appreciates people for their experiences. We benefit from those diverse perspectives. We get an added dimension from employees with disabilities,” said Disability Programs Manager Lisa Williams.

Dufrene’s USPS career was sparked by a postal recruiter at a Gallaudet job fair two years ago.

“The Postal Service wasn’t even on my radar. But I did some research and learned about the Management Foundations Program. That led to my current position,” she said.

During the one-year training program, Dufrene spent time learning about mail flow at a postal plant, where two deaf employees, also Gallaudet graduates, noticed her using ASL.

“They told me they were very excited to see someone like them working at headquarters,” she said.

The conversation reaffirmed one of Dufrene’s goals: “I want to help build a bridge to get more deaf and hard of hearing people — as well as all people with disabilities — here at headquarters.”

She added: “The Postal Service feels like home. I love working here because there’s a place for everyone.”

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