Today, in 2017, with all the various equal opportunities and anti-discrimination laws that exist, why do 1 in 4 deaf or hard of hearing people still face job discrimination? What are jobs for the hearing impaired?
Let’s have a look at the whole application – interview – workplace process.
OOP’S, Let me rephrase that first sentence!!
When I say that 1 in 4 has suffered discrimination in the workplace, I am sure that the figure is much higher. The 1 in 4 that I refer to are actually the numbers of deaf or hard of hearing people who have been forced to leave their place of work due to discrimination.
With the almost total automation of modern production and huge advances in communication technology, you would think it would be easier now more than ever for deaf and hard of hearing people to thrive in the workplace. There should be very few barriers to jobs for the hearing impaired.
Sadly it is not the case. There still appears to be a complete lack of understanding and empathy for the ability of the deaf and hard of hearing community to be integrated into the modern workforce.
It all begins at the interview stage.
Actually, it begins before that. Even putting a C.V together can be a problem. Do I tell my prospective employer that I have a hearing impairment even though my condition would have no bearing on the job I’m applying for?
My answer to that one is yes. I have always declared my hearing loss. I don’t think it is the right way to begin a relationship by omitting something that is such a big part of my life. Also, the way I see it is this. If the employer is so narrow-minded that they wouldn’t even consider me because of my hearing loss then is that really a company I would want to work for?
That is not to say that my way is the correct way. I know other hearing loss people who never declare their condition on their C.V. They’re argument is that if they can get to the interview stage then they can explain their condition and how it won’t affect their performance on the job.
It’s a personal thing and whichever works for you then that is the way to go.
Now back to the interview stage.
This is where things can get really embarrassing. Not for me but for the interviewer! When I walk into an interview I look to see what the conditions are like. If it is just myself and one or two other people in a quiet room then it is fine.
If the interview is being conducted somewhere where there is background noise I will either ask them if they have an induction loop system in place or if we can go somewhere quieter. This usually knocks the interviewer off-kilter straight away. I also know at this stage that they haven’t read my C.V properly or my covering letter. As I explained earlier I am always upfront about my condition.
As you can imagine this doesn’t set a very good tone for the rest of the interview. What it shows me is that the company or the interviewer haven’t prepared properly. This will lead to one of two things happening.
Firstly, the interviewer will resent me for putting them in this position, in which case I can say goodbye to the job. Secondly, the interviewer will recognise that I am a strong enough person to stand up for myself. They will see that as a good character trait and it will only enhance my prospects for getting the position.
The other thing I have consistently found in my interviews is the lack of willingness of the interviewer to mention my condition at all. It is right there in front of them on my C.V but 99 times out of 100 it is me who introduces it to the conversation. I want it discussed. I want to ensure that the role I am applying for is compatible with my hearing loss.
The workplace can be a lonely place for the hearing impaired.
The modern workplace, with all the automation and communication technology available today, should really be a place for hard of hearing people to feel welcome and at ease. Sadly, all too often, that is not the case.
Far too many workplaces still do not provide adequate support, guidance or resources for people with hearing loss. Ensuring that a particular position is fit as a job for the hearing impaired should be neither costly nor inconvenient for an employer.
In the workplace itself, there are constant hurdles to overcome, such as communicating with employees who fail to recognise or accommodate the needs of deaf and hard of hearing employees. Then there are other activities, such as using the phone, taking part in meetings, and even having to take time off work to attend hospital appointments and hearing aid clinics.
These are the areas we struggle in and it would take very little effort from companies to put us on a level par with our fellow workers. When we talk about discrimination of the hearing impaired in the workplace we don’t mean direct discrimination from fellow workers in the form of verbal or physical abuse (although that can and does happen).
The discrimination we refer to is the lack of support, the lack of resources and the lack of an ability to give us the tools to let us do the job we were employed to do. Having to struggle every day in a meeting to hear what is being said will eventually wear you down. If you cannot hear the conversation, how can you do your job properly? A small portable induction loop system would solve this problem in an instant.
They are not all bad.
I have worked with some fantastic companies. One, in particular, went above and beyond to ensure that I had every facility needed to allow me to do my job. Not just me I might add. This company had a positive attitude to employing people with various disabilities. It is perhaps no coincidence that the company owner himself was totally deaf.
There are so much talent and insight among deaf and disabled people, and companies today could benefit hugely from including them in their workforce and giving them the necessary tools and respect they require to work to their full potential. We are not looking for more than anyone else. We simply want to have the same opportunity as everyone else.
Thank you for taking the time to visit my site. As always I would love to hear from you. Have you ever suffered discrimination at work due to a disability? How did you react? What more can be done to make the workforce more diverse?
Please feel free to leave your comments below. I will reply as soon as possible.