Deaf & job hunting

28 04 2007

Did you know, statistically, it is easier for a convicted criminal to get a job than it is for a deaf person? (Source: CACDP)

This is very aggravating when you’ve had the benefit of a good education, worked harder than your hearing peers in order to be treated equally, and then have to compete on an uneven playing field in the face of employers that tend to look at disability first rather than the ability. It seems that to compete with others for jobs, you have to be not just as good, but better than hearing people. I know so many deaf people that are well qualified in their field and just cannot get the job they are qualified to do.

A few years ago, I tried an experiment. I applied for twelve vacancies and split them into two piles. In the first pile, I said I am deaf and need to use a textphone, blah blah blah. In the second pile, I did not mention my hearing loss. I had no interest from the employers in my first pile, and the employers from my second pile couldn’t get hold of me fast enough – until I explained that I am hearing impaired, then I was dropped like a hot brick. You can draw your own conclusions…..

Here are some tips for getting the job that you want.

* be confident and assertive – you’re great as well!
* apply for suitable jobs with your skill set or transferable skills
* be open and honest about your communication preferences and needs
* explain Access To Work to the employer, or ask your local JobCentre or RNID to assist you with this
* make sure your CV is concise, well written and appropriate (targeted, chronological, or functional as appropriate)
* get advice and assistance with interview skills if you’re rusty
* apply to specialist agencies as well, such as Employment Opportunities
* plan your job hunt like a project, and keep track of all your applications – don’t miss the deadlines

If you are offered an interview

* dress appropriately for interview and arrive on time
* preparation is key – research the company, the role, have answers ready for expected questions
* think about why you want to work for this company and what you can offer them
* you can obtain communication support from the JobCentre
* before the interview, it’s a good idea to replace your hearing aid battery and to make sure the tubing is free from moisture
* remember, this is also an opportunity for you to find out about the company – do you really want to work for THEM?

Do you tell a prospective employer you are deaf or not? Take the poll!



7 responses

28 04 2007
Garrett Bose

Unbelievable but sad that by statistic, criminal convicted is more likely to get job over the deaf person… Oh boy. It makes sense to me.. Oh well.

29 04 2007
Jamie Berke

I looked at the website you linked to in the UK – CACDP – but could not find the source of the statistic you referred to. Can you please tell us exactly where on that site we can find this statistic? I’d like to see it.

29 04 2007

Discrimination couldn’t be anymore obvious! I think the ADA should be revised and require all Employers to have some kind of educational training that will familiarize them with various diverse populations. I also believe that any person with a disability can do any type of job with the proper accommodations. Sadly enough, most employers do not know much about accommodations. Best of luck to people job hunting.

29 04 2007

Hi Jamie
The source is not on the website, it is within the CACDP Deaf Awareness Trainers pack for tutors.

30 04 2007

You mentioned: “Do you tell a prospective employer you are deaf or not? Take the poll!”
I want to clarify– you are speaking of a deaf person applying a job in a ‘hearing workplace’? 🙂

Because every job I had applied, I never had to tell them that I am Deaf because every job had the boss knowing ASL well enough for me to conduct my interview. I never felt the need to inform them that I am Deaf (or let them assume that– otherwise, they can think that I am a CODA, SODA, or whatever label). I will refuse to answer the questions such as if I am from a Deaf family or if I attend the Deaf school. Why? Often I think those specifications don’t matter and unfortunately those questions usually count against my favors when it come to teaching ASL.

It is a double-standard for me, a culturally and pre-lingually Deaf person who grew up mainstreamed with hearing (signing!) parents.


BUT if I am to apply for a job in predominately hearing workplace, I won’t bother to tell them that I am Deaf. I will just show up with an interpreter and let them get over with the shock. If I need equipments etc, I will just bring over my stuff (You can get it for free) and let them know that there are such devices. Educating them will improve their awareness and more eager to hire another Deaf employees (who may come in the workplace already “Deaf-friendly”). I always think myself as a pioneer– I have to break down the barriers for the sake of next Deaf generations (possibly your, my, their *hearing ppl* children).

I want to add one more thing: It is not only the Deaf that got “dropped like a hot brick”– the handicapped, the little people (Matt Roloff just discussed on the last episode as he gave out a lecture at an university), the blind, and many different types of disability people have. Once the employers get the wind of whatever disability one may have, they panic.
What’s the matter? I thought the new generation has enough sense to know that it doesn’t matter what disability, you can DO it. I am still shell-shocked that the world hasn’t moved on.
I think the big step is for the companies/employers to attend a workshop to develop awareness about how to handle the situations with Deaf and/or disabled employees better.

30 04 2007

Yes I was referring to a deaf person applying to a hearing employer.
I agree with your comments. Employers need to be educated by us. I do the same thing, I say nothing. I just turn up to interview with my Hearing Dog, and find out at interview if I can lip read the panel. Those on the panel are likely to be the ones I will be working with. If I can’t lip read the panel, then I can’t work with people I can’t lip read in a daily working life. I don’t have an interpreter by my side for 35 hours a week, my allowance is only 16 hours a month and I had to fight like mad just to get that much. I do like your idea of bringing your equipment.

I think it will take longer than one generation to change attitudes towards disability and rid our society of discrimination – check out what it’s like in other countries such as Nigeria
so I think we are actually pretty lucky, for some of us to be able to get decent jobs at all, and for government assistance to be in place. Of course, we should NOT have this situation in the first place. I reckon it’s all down to ignorance and education is key, with funding for support (applies to all disabilities, by the way). Access to Work had a £68 million UNDERSPEND last year, and people are crying out for assistance, but we are required to prove a ‘business case’ before we can obtain funding for assistance. Yep, it sucks.

9 08 2007
Living a Simple Life » Blog Archive » What to do with a bored deaf man?

[…] the guy thought he was doing the right thing and saw no problems with it. Now, is it any wonder why deaf people have a harder time getting a job than criminals who’ve done a stint at Her Majesty’s […]

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