3 Unusual Deaf Job Opportunities You Should Consider

17 02 2017

deaf job opportunities

3 Unconventional and lucrative deaf job opportunities

Can you turn your job into a deaf job? Being deaf or hard of hearing forces us to think and look outside the box when contemplating career options.

Many potential employers are reluctant to hire deaf workers because they assume our communication needs will impose a financial strain.

Because we do not perform jobs like a hearing employee would, few deaf people ever advance in their career.

Are you frustrated with your seemingly dead-end job? Then why not try something different.

Let’s remove ourselves from the traditional ‘jobs for deaf people’ and start considering the unique opportunities available to us in a deaf job.


My Hearing, My Future

20 10 2011

A competition, My Hearing, My Future, is now open to young people aged 10-18 years.

Entries are invited in English or British Sign Language. Participants are invited to be creative and come up with a winning idea for using science to help improve life for the deaf, deafened or hard of hearing.

Previous winners have come up with some exciting ideas;

Helen Thomas, from the 12-14 age group, was the winner in 2009. Her entry said:

I would like to think, that in the next 20 years there will be great advances in helping deaf children/adults. As a cochlear implant user I would expect advances in this area to be more exciting, maybe along the lines of putting the implant and processor under the skin and therefore eliminating the need for an external processor, or a implant that tunes in to the conversation you are listening to, and eliminates surrounding sounds (very science fiction!)

Or maybe gene therapy can play a part, with replacing the faulty gene, I along with my family, have had blood taken to see which gene is responsible for my deafness, this is something I would think research would focus on.

Communicating with deaf people, it would be great if, a degree of sign language could be on the school time table, its great to learn sign, you never know when you will need it, its important to make people aware how difficult it is for deaf people, like all sensory impairment, “making people aware” is very important.

I would like to see all classrooms equiped with the necessary sound fields and finally here is one crazy idea, what about glasses/or contact lenses that when worn would show subtitles maybe in a cinema or TV.

So this is my vision for the future, I hope it helps!

Jordan McGrath, from the 15-19 age group, was the 2009 winner. His entry said:

There are 9 million deaf people in the U.K, 34,000 of which are children and young people. It doesn’t matter whether a deaf person has mild deafness, moderate deafness, severe deafness or is profoundly deaf there are always solutions such as technology equipment such as hearing aids or cochlea implants. There are other solutions such as lip reading and sign language. 2 million people in the U.K have hearing aid/s. 4 million people don’t have hearing aid/s, this is a high number and I think that people who want to have a hearing aid/s or cochlea implant should investigate what equipment is useful for them. It would lead to an easier way of life. They would benefit from it hugely. I think that deaf people should be treated equally as hearing people: examples, more subtitled shows at cinemas, interpreters at shows, pantomimes and other public places where a deaf person needs help with communication in some way. I think that these services should be funded by the government. I also think that there should be more deaf awareness taught around the U.K: examples, staff in supermarkets, high street shops, churches, restaurants, cafes and the most important of all are doctors, hospitals, dentist and other medical care centres.  I would benefit hugely if this problem was solved because me myself as a deaf person can struggle at times when I go out to public places such as shops. Another thing is that new buildings that are being built should be built with soundfield or loop systems. More DVD’S should include either a choice of subtitles or a signer. I find that many DVD’S that my family have bought in the past have no subtitles so therefore I can’t watch it.  Also modern mobile phones as seen in shops should contain all the features that a deaf person needs.

I think that a lot of deaf people would benefit from a waterproof hearing-aid/s which has different levels for different kinds of deafness. These waterproof hearing aids could be used in swimming pools in the sea and other wet areas when it’s raining. This way they wouldn’t miss out talking to hearing friends/family or even a deaf person who can’t communicate. They would have to be a small object that fits into the ear so that they don’t fall out and get lost. Normal digital and analogue hearing aids are not allowed to get wet. I also think that a higher powered hearing aid/s should be created for profoundly deaf people. It would be loud enough so that a deaf person can hear all the correct sounds that are being said and this could improve their speech. Also in shops and other public places they may hear what the person is saying more clearly. It could be electric chargeable although this wouldn’t be good for the environment so high powered batteries could be made. Also a person with no hearing or little hearing should be provided with a choice of having a hearing dog for the deaf, this helps deaf people have a more independent life and not rely on others too much. A higher local service should be provided for deaf people if they are in need of something or having difficulties with something. They should be provided with a person who works at that local area and are able to get in touch with them as confidently as possible. They should always have support no matter how old they are.

My Hearing, My Future is a collaboration between Deafness Research UK and Deafness Cognition and Language (DCAL) Research Centre. Sponsored by Phonak, Advanced Bionics, BT, and Chilli Technology.

Competition : My Hearing, My Future


13 06 2011

I discovered a new start-up in the Middle East, called Mimix. Mimix’s aim is to translate speech to sign langage and to teach deaf and others sign language. What do you think of it?


Deaf people can do anything

17 07 2009

I love this video. It reminds me of a time at school when I was 17. One of my teachers said to me “You’ll never make it into university”. Not because I was thick or slow, but because I simply couldn’t hear my teachers. I didn’t have an interpreter or any type of communication aid so I was fighting hard. The teachers taught in English and my classmates would reply in Spanish, which didn’t help. I didn’t need to hear this sh*t as well. And from a teacher! Well, that made me mad. MAD AS HELL.

Mentally, I stuck two fingers up at her and I made it into not one, but 4 universities. I really do believe that where there’s a will, there’s a way. Deaf or not.

I’ve not been short on the skills either. I’ve worked in retail, law, accounting, teaching, careers consultancy, and have my own businesses. I’ve plenty of deaf friends who are accountants, entrepreneurs, teachers, lawyers….. they are all smart and sassy. They’re deaf. So what? I’d say to any person who is put down by someone else; believe in yourself and go grab your life with both hands. You deserve nothing less.

Call for Telecoms and Convergent Media related research and commercial projects

10 07 2009

Here is a chance for deaf people and those interested in improvements in the telecoms sector to make a difference for deaf people by encouraging innovations and investment in new technology.

UCL (University College London) want to hear from individuals who have past, current or planned commercial activities (including spin-outs and consulting work) that target or involve telecoms innovations.

Companies ar eno longer confined to their own markets. Fixed, mobile, and IP service providers can offer content and media services, and equipment providers can offer services directly to the end user. How will new telecommunications technologies develop? Where will the social, economic and legal barriers between digital and real-world lives break-down? Where will the innovations in new media take us?

The conference on 12 November 2009 will cover:

* New telecoms and media technologies
* The need for collaboration between traditional telecom suppliers and media service providers
* The technical, legal and social problems faced and the disruptive forces to convergence

UCL are now looking to identify the following people:

To express an interest in participating at the event, contact Euphame McDonald, Events & Marketing Manager, UCL Advances on advances@ucl.ac.uk

UCL Advances, UCL’s centre for entrepreneurship and business interaction, hosts a series of annual ‘Technology Innovation Forum’ events which bring together academics and researchers with established businesses and investors in order to encourage new relationships that may lead to future research or commercial opportunities.

Previous events have focused on themes such as:
Energy and Sustainability

The format of these events is typically focused on a half day conference that includes short presentations of recent research and commercial projects, panel discussions with academic and leading business figures and a keynote presentation. These have delivered real benefits to members of UCL and external organisations.

Deaf man wins £50,000 business award

1 12 2008

Andrew Thomson runs a business in Scotland called Sign-Now, providing online BSL video-conferencing for deaf people. This service enables deaf people, who do not speak but use sign language, to communicate with hearing people over the internet. Brilliant.

He’s now received an award from easyGroup and Leonard Cheshire Disability for his work.

Anna says deaf awareness makes sense

5 03 2008

Anna Lickley is an inspiration to others as she runs Sense-Ability, a successful business raising deaf awareness and teaching sign language, whilst coping with profound deafness and Neurofibromatosis. She graduated from university with a degree in French. Here I ask her about her business and how she came to be where she is today.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m 32 and live in Bristol. I’m deafened, I went deaf when I was about 19/20 and at university. I have an illness called Neurofibromatosis (NF2) which is genetic although mine started by genetic mutation meaning I am the first in my family to have it.

I learned BSL to Level 2 at Sheffield University and now have NVQ 3 and have done linguistics courses and things to learn more and more about it. I communicate in BSL any time I can when other people use it and I also communicate orally using lip-reading if needs be.

What is your current occupation and what have you done previously?

I’m currently running Sense-Ability which is an organisation offering Deaf Awareness, Disability Equality training and British Sign language teaching to businesses and organisations. If I am training, I travel all over the UK. Training sessions are usually one day or half a day, I also offer intensive courses in BSL Levels one and two or just the first unit of BSL Level one and introduction to sign language.

I also spend time working from home on my computer, taking bookings that come in through the website, planning sessions or keeping up with general administration.

I find that generally people are not confident at communicating with deaf and disabled people, the training usually really challenges people to make their communication more accessible. I also get people to think about barriers that they are creating, however unwittingly, through attitudes such as paternalism etc. People often say it has really made them think about changing the way they see disability and deafness.

It’s encouraging when I visit companies who already employ deaf staff and receive feedback from the deaf people that they have really noticed a change after the training: in the way people communicate and in their confidence at approaching deaf people.

I also run week-long residential courses, for individuals to book, in BSL Levels one and two. The venue in West Wales is lovely and though the week is pretty tiring for everyone, we usually have a good week. I think learning BSL intensively helps people to get to grips with it as a language rather then just learning vocabulary with English lip-pattern / word-order which can happen sometimes at Level one.

Previously, I worked at the University of Bristol in a unit that provides support for Deaf and disabled students.

Being self employed, what has been the hardest thing to cope with when you’re deaf?

Self-employment offers less support, for example I used to have a BSL interpreter in the office who interpreted phone calls for me and voiced my signed replies. Now I don’t use the telephone much as calls through TextDirect can be difficult and some people hang up before I get connected as they think it is a cold call. As I work different hours every week depending on when I have bookings, there’s no point trying for an interpreter through Access to Work. I usually explain to clients that email or SMS is the best and almost everybody has an email address so it’s not a great problem. Most people are great at adapting once they get out of automatically thinking of using the phone.

The bane of my job is booking interpreters because I generally can’t take bookings from clients at short notice because I have to allow time to find an interpreter. Finding an interpreter can be time consuming and something extra to think about. I wouldn’t train without an interpreter as I like my sessions to be interactive with the trainees getting involved rather than just me talking. It’s nice to be able to encourage / facilitate discussions.

Has the consultancy / training field adapted well to your hearing loss?

As I’m self employed I don’t have much contact with other training companies apart from those linked with disability type training like the University of Bristol or RNID. People I work with tend to be very clued up and able to adapt their working methods.

Apart from running the business, what do you do? What inspires you?

When I’m not working, I love the outdoors, fresh air and exercise, all of which help to clear my head. I enjoy running and going to the gym. I also love meeting friends for coffee or having people round for dinner or a glass of wine. I am a Christian and very much involved with church, both a hearing church and the deaf church.

How do you cope with networking and the social side of business communications?

If I go to a social event, I prefer to take a BSL interpreter with me as lip-reading groups of people is no fun. It’s interesting to see people’s reactions to using interpreters, first very unsure and talking to the interpreter but I usually explain the role of an interpreter and things improve. Explaining over and over again how to use an interpreter can get tiring but it is generally worth it, although I don’t always do it if I think conversations will be quick one-offs.

I don’t network that way very much, I prefer to approach people on a one-to-one basis, I find it gets better results anyway for this type of business.

What do you think of the online deaf community?

Actually, I’m not really part of it, usually because I spend a lot of time working on my computer. I find the computer can really drain you of energy if you’re not careful and so for socialising or relaxing I prefer to get away from it. Having seen your blog though, perhaps I should get more involved.

What’s been the hardest thing about setting up your own business?

I think being on your own is hard. You have to be responsible for everything so, if your computer breaks, you have to fix it and can’t just call the technicians as you could if you were a larger organisation. You need to do your own finances whereas other places might have their own finance department etc. It’s just needing to be flexible and learning many new things at once.

You can have times when work is very quiet (summer in my case where very few people book training) and times that are very busy when all bookings seem to come at once, both are tricky to deal with.

If you had your time over again, would you change anything?

I think deciding to run Sense-Ability was a good decision. It is sometimes hard and I get tired (linked with my NF2) but it gives me a lot more flexibility with my time. I am sure everyone’s life has ups and downs, good times and tougher times, I don’t think I’d change much.

Perhaps if I could change anything, I would prefer everyone in the UK to know sign language.

What are your aspirations, hopes and dreams in 2008?

That whatever 2008 holds will be a challenge I can meet!

Do you have any tips for other deaf people who want to be self employed?

I spent months deciding if it was the right thing to do but it worked well, you have to be ready to put in plenty of hard work and expect rough patches as well as good times. You must make sure it’s something you love doing.

I did a brilliant, very helpful, course before I started for people considering running their own business. It had information about creating a business plan, keeping accounts / tax issues, marketing, advertising and so on and I would recommend anyone to look around for something similar. There are lots of local support organisations for people setting up in business.

I also initially set up as a partnership with a friend and we later decided to split, to work co-operatively. He is now stepping out and looking for something new but it has been a big help to have someone doing something similar. I think we encouraged each other to take the step and it meant not feeling totally on my own. Perhaps it would be useful to look for someone you can work with / shadow / get advice from.

CLICK HERE to go to Sense-Ability’s website.

Ian digs deeper

17 01 2008

Ian has a new business called TipTop Gardens. He offers a professional patio and driveway cleaning service to domestic or commercial customers, using a purpose built rotary surface cleaner which restores your paving back to it’s original condition. Commercial contracts can be undertaken at weekends to minimise disruption. Check out these before and after photos of his work.

Just look at this filthy monobloc drive (I won’t say whose it is)…

And just look at it after we let Ian loose on it ….

Here is Marge’s slab patio – before TipTop …

… and after Ian works his magic …

Ian can install easy mowing edging blocks, which create a centrepiece or give a great finish to your lawn. Set just below the surface of your lawn, these mean the mower can safely be pushed over them, separating the lawn from borders and just think … no more edging.

Check out Ian’s handiwork in his own garden. He wanted to create a focal point and make a cobbled corner as people keep walking over the edge of his lawn. He has done a number of these for other people and they have lasted years with no problems. He says it’s also great because he never has to trim the edges of the lawn again, he just runs the lawn mower over the bricks and it keeps the lawnmower from damaging the bedding plants too. He grew all his plants in a greenhouse, apart from the centre plant which he moved from another part of the garden.

I got ahold of Ian and, being nosey as ever, I asked him about himself and his new gardening business (aka Scottish Ground Force).

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I am 42 years old I have been severely deaf since I was 4 years old through measles but lost more of my hearing through bad ear infections 10 years ago. I’m now profoundly deaf and waiting for a cochlear implant, which should happen before the summer. I have been happily married for 20 years, I have a 16 year old son, live in a very small village on the outskirts of Edinburgh. If I was to describe myself, well cheeky springs to mind and most would agree, but they would also say it’s in good fun, I love making people laugh and laughing along with others.

What is your current occupation?

A landscape gardener would be my first choice but I also work as a part time courier for the local council to fill in the hours until my business takes off (I finish this on the 25th of January), but I’m also a qualified forester (11 years) and a Class 1 HGV driver (9 years).

What inspires you?

I don’t know if it’s a deafness thing but it’s mostly visual things that inspire me – flowers, animals etc. I love both with a passion. Sitting on top of a Munro on a clear day looking as far as the eye can see takes some beating for inspiration.

Apart from running the business, what do you do?

I love hill walking, there’s no better way of clearing your mind. I also cook as I find it’s a very good way to unwind. Photography – I never leave home without a camera. I also play golf and badminton when I can.

Describe your ideal day

It would be getting up, having a cooked breakfast outdoors in a sunny climate, snorkelling along a rocky coast, working off breakfast, a hike up a mountain, back home to get cleaned up, then trail some local shops before going out for dinner with my family. Bliss.

Any plans for expansion?

It might be my downfall but I have no plans to expand now or later, I will never say never though. I wanted to work for myself doing something I am passionate about, but I’d be happy just making a living for the two of us. I find it’s a more personal service which I fear would be lost in a bigger company, although it would save clients on cups of coffee in the long run.

Which season inspires you the most and why?

Definitely winter. I love walking in the snow with my wife and dog, breathing in the crisp fresh air, with everything looking so new and I know that in the near future spring will burst to life and bring with it a whole new year in the garden.

Where would you most like to go on holiday?

Some wouldn’t see it as a holiday but I do, and it remains an ambition I hope to achieve, to hike up and see the Inca village, Machu Picchu in Peru.

What are your aspirations, hopes and dreams in 2008?

My business to thrive, my son to be accepted into university, and everyone (hippyish I know) to be healthy after a few close family deaths last year.

What do you love about the online deaf community?

Lots of things, if I was to pick one it would be the social aspect of it, but the great advice, humour, and problem sharing/solving, for me it was a huge help in realising thousands of others were feeling and suffering the same way I was, and a big help for me in getting through it all. I have made many deaf friends through the years and was lucky enough to meet some of them including yourself last year when I was down in London.

What projects are you currently working on?

Mostly work projects at this moment in time, gearing up for leaving my part time work and concentrating on the landscape business.

What’s been the hardest thing about setting up your own business?

Not surprisingly, communication! Although I ask customers to use email for contact, a lot of them still insist on calling. I can’t use a telephone so at the moment my wife takes the calls until I set up a phone for my nephew who works part time for me.

If you had your time over again, would you change anything?

Yes. I would make sure Mr Blair senior had put on a johnny, joking aside there are some things I’d like to change but nothing major, all in all I’m happy with my lot.

Do you have any tips for other deaf people who want to be self employed?

I don’t feel very qualified to advise anyone on working for themselves other than to choose something they love doing and never just to make a quick buck, you’d then be swimming against the current until you drown.

If you want your garden done or patio cleaned (and you do, you do!) you can email Ian at tiptopgardens at btinternet.com or call 07944 831 882 after 5.30PM. Obviously, email is preferred! OAP discounts and quotes are obtainable.

* Commercial and domestic maintenance contracts
* Patio and driveway restoration
* Fencing
* Hedge trimming
* Weed control
* Fence and shed spraying
* Turfing
* Garden clearances / tidyups
* Tree work, pruning and removal
* Paths and patios

Deaf and self employed. Nigel asks – are you Game?

1 11 2007

Nigel has become famous among London’s deaf community and is now branching out into the rest of the world – that includes the hearing world! He is the proud owner of Game Ideas Ltd and has produced a new game called Cuberty.

Cuberty is a three dimensional word game which has been highly recommended by this year’s Good Toy guide. It’s fabulous. He brought one into the pub one night and that was it. Killed the conversation stone dead. (Deaf people can only look at one thing at a time, remember?!)

Be quick, as it’s a runaway success, and the christmas deadline is 10 December – it’s even earlier if you want a Cuberty set posted abroad. Nigel Cuberty is being sold to schools, retail outlets, individuals and on the internet. Nigel says, ‘It’s keeping me busy’ – well that’s the understatement of the year!

In March 2007 Nigel talked about the history of Cuberty and its exhibition at the Toy Fair in the BBC2 programme ‘See Hear‘. The presenters of the show and the schoolchildren who played it all spoke highly of the game. Nigel’s autobiography was published in April 2007 in RNID‘s ‘One in Seven’ magazine. The Inwords game has been published in the One in Seven magazine and in The Times.

Cue: Ooooooooooooohhh! (And no, I still haven’t asked Nigel for his autograph)

Words are formed across and down as in a crossword but also vertically downwards and above the playing surface. People think of it as 3D Scrabble but it is a better game. Trade enquiries are welcome. It costs £19.99 plus £4.99 for P+P (please enquire for P+P rates for overseas orders). You can buy Cuberty online or send a cheque payable to Game Ideas Ltd, and send it to Games Ideas Ltd, PO Box 311, Bicester, OX26 4ZZ, United Kingdom. For security, it will be sent as ‘signed for’ so give an address where someone will be there to sign for it. Otherwise your postman will nick it!

Help. I am surrounded by all these entrepreneurs! Intrigued, I asked Nigel how he likes being an entrepreneur who happens to have a hearing loss. Surely it can’t be easy? It must be that much harder when you are deaf as well. Nigel commented – ‘One thing is for sure, anyone who thinks setting up a business, let alone trying with hearing loss, is easy has got it wrong!’ I got him to sit still for five minutes and asked him some nosey questions.

Q. Being self employed, what has been the hardest thing to cope with when you’re deaf?
Nigel: Telephone conversations. I can’t make out what’s being said very well even though I have two digital hearing aids (Oticon Spirit II). At home, my BT Converse 225 amplifier phone helps a lot but if the caller is using a mobile phone and the reception is bad then it’s a nightmare. Answer phones – eek !

Q. Has the entertainment world adapted well to your hearing loss?
Nigel: Some people are very helpful, others aren’t. It depends on the person, but I have been very lucky with those I’ve met.

Q. How do you cope with networking and the social side of business communications?
Nigel: In meetings with more than two other people, it is a real strain. The best thing to do is to be positive about what you do hear and ignore the rest since stress makes the situation worse.

Q. If you had your time over again, would you change anything?
Nigel: I’d win the Lottery LOL

Q. Do you have any tips for other deaf people who want to be self employed?
Nigel: Go for it. Have no regrets – just try your best. If you don’t try, you’ll never know. Blind and deaf people have made it.

Game on, Nigel. Isn’t he fantastic?!

Deaf and self employed? Jane says – Think! about it

20 05 2007

A friend Jane is a fashion designer and is hearing impaired. She had a sample sale this weekend in Brick Lane, so when I was bribed with home made organic carrot cake – couldn’t resist this – I was persuaded to accompany her. I didn’t take much bribing did I, he he he.

Jane’s business, Think!, is based on fair trade, which means workers are paid a living wage rather than an unfair wage, and a portion of this is ploughed back into the local community. Traditional skills are retained and a contribution is made towards reducing global warming. Jane uses organic cotton, where the farmers don’t use pesticides – better for them and for the end-user. Pesticides kill and injure thousands of people every year. You can read more about fair trade and Jane’s ethical policies on her website. She has made many trips to India, sourcing all her textiles and labour from there.

I was on the way and Jane sent me a text with directions – ‘come out of Shoreditch and turn right, then right again to the Truman Brewery.’ Heh, good one Jane!

Jane was absolutely inundated with customers and she has done a superb marketing job, tying in her logo and values into her memorable brand of organic fair trade clothing. Jane has now joined our ‘SH club’, appearing on See Hear last year. I asked her a few questions about what it’s like to be self employed and deaf.

Being self employed, what has been the hardest thing to cope with when you’re deaf?
I can’t hear on the telephone very well and that has had a detrimental effect on my working life. Instead I rely on email and fax. I find that most people use email anyway, it’s a case of persuading them to adopt my chosen method of business communication rather than theirs. I also use a virtual office, which is a useful tool for deaf people.

Has the fashion world adapted well to your hearing loss?
There are companies out there that will go that extra mile for you, and there are some that won’t give you the time of day when they find out you are deaf. It’s not so different from any other type of business. You need tenacity, you need to keep working at getting your contacts and making them work well for you.

How do you cope with networking and the social side of business communications?
I find it very difficult to cope with social events as they are too noisy and hearing people under estimate how difficult it is to lip read a group of people. So I don’t network in this way, I prefer to talk to people on a more personal basis even though this means I have to network that much harder.

If you had your time over again, would you change anything?
I do regret not taking up some opportunities I was offered after doing my degree in fashion design. But that’s hindsight for you!

Do you have any tips for other deaf people who want to be self employed?
Go for it. If you are determined and really keen on your idea, do persevere, as it’s really great to work for yourself. Do take up any offers that come your way, no matter how busy you are. And keep at it.

Jane has proved that deafness need not be a barrier to success. She says nothing can beat the thrill of working for herself. Darren took her for a coffee break and as they walked down Brick Lane, they spotted a lady who had bought a Think! coat earlier, and she was wearing it – what a blast!