Have you ever wondered why it is difficult for deaf & hard of hearing people to get gainful employment, and sometimes any employment at all? Do you wonder what is wrong with hearing people that they don’t get it or don’t understand?
I have to be honest. I didn’t get it. As a matter of fact, I didn’t know a problem existed. I didn’t figure it out until I started researching deaf, hard of hearing, and Deaf culture. The more I read the more my eyes were opened to the level of discrimination against deaf and hard of hearing individuals, especially concerning employment.
You know you are qualified for the job based on the skills and duties listed for the position, but how can you show a potential employer what you can bring to the company if you don’t ever get the chance? How can you let them know you rank right up there with other top candidates and you can bring something to the table that no one else can?
What if you could offer a solution to potential employers before you ever apply or interview – maybe before they even post the job? Would you be interested? Would you be willing to step outside the box and go for it?
Put yourself on the other side of the fence (in the hearing world) for a few minutes. Experiencing a situation from a different perspective may help you visualize solutions to problems holding you back and stopping you from moving forward.
In today’s society we tend to focus our energies on the problem. We tie ourselves up in knots trying to figure out how to get around the problem or make it disappear. We get frustrated, angry, give up, think and feel negative, or blame it on someone else.
Back To The Starting Line!
What if we moved ourselves off the receiving end of the problem, put ourselves back at the starting line and came up with a few solutions to the ‘perceived problems?’ If all that energy could be focused on solutions instead of problems, the outcome might be different.
You’re probably thinking, “Oh, nothing is going to change!” and it might not right away, but it is a start. Some serious brainstorming needs to be done to come up with ideas to change the outcome and remove those barriers.
What Would You Do?
This reminds me of a segment I watched on TV this past year on “What Would You Do?” with John Quinonnes, about deaf applicants at a coffee shop. It is evident employers & companies are well informed about techniques to avoid confronting the brick wall called the ADA.
Rather than find a way to solve the problem, employers (or their lawyers & advisors) came up with solutions to avoid ‘getting caught’ in the middle of a legal battle. Now, it is your turn. Let’s provide solutions!
What Are The Issues?
Hiring the deaf and hard of hearing poses problems to employers who don’t know how to handle issues involving deaf or hard of hearing individuals. What are these issues?
If I were to put myself on the other side of the fence, as an employer, what would I be concerned about? My immediate thoughts might be:
- How will I communicate with someone who can’t hear me?
- How will I train and give direction or feedback?
- Do I have to treat them differently than other employees?
- What provisions will they need in order to do the job?
- How can I accommodate their specific needs financially?
- Who do I go to for advice? What agencies are available to help me (the employer) figure this out – the right way?
Getting answers to these questions is not as easy as you’d think. Do you have answers?
Hearing people might think, “It isn’t my problem.” But it is or could be at any time. If you lost your hearing today how are you going to manage tomorrow?
Deaf and Hard of Hearing people might think, “It isn’t my problem. There are laws to protect us.” But it is your problem because these unanswered questions are standing in your way. How are the laws helping when you can’t get a job because of your deafness?
Feedback – Anyone?
Got something to say? Just say it below in comments. It doesn’t matter which side of the fence you’re on – your opinion still counts!