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.


The worst job?

20 01 2008

Andrew was talking about the tough jobs he’s had. Here’s his story …

“I had an extraordinary life because my parents were actually shopkeepers and I was pretty much brought up in the back room of the shop. My father made a lot of money but he gambled it away on dogs and horses. While I was still at school we had a small stable with our own horses and when I left school I ended up running that and training greyhounds to race on the flapper tracks.

Eventually my parents decided to give up business and become farmers in Devon, that’s where I did the cows, then we moved to Cornwall where I did the horses. The other jobs were as a result of my trying to break away from my parents. They were very controlling and had a really bad attitude towards my deafness and kept me very dependent on them. So I had to do all these rubbish jobs in my efforts to get away.

By the way I ended up doing a degree in IT at the Open University but unfortunately I have back trouble, caused by all that hard work so I am actually on Incapacity Benefit at the moment.

The worst job? OK tough guy. Let’s see YOU get up at 3.30 am for a 4.30 start at the slaughterhouse and then be confronted first thing in the morning by a steaming line of freshly killed and skinned dead bodies. Let’s see the hard man try that one. The first thing that happens is they lower a 200lb side of cow onto your shoulder to be taken out to the van. By 8 am we had a fleet of vans fully loaded and on the road to the butchers.

You think that’s easy. OK lets see ya 🙂

Then of course there was the three years I spent working in the construction industry. I was originally on the Liskeard Bypass working for Costain but I got the opportunity to take a post in materials testing on the Humber Bridge. So off I went to the Humber which at that time was just a hole in the ground and a very expensive one too. I spent 18 months crawling all over every structure in the site. My initials are hopefully still carved at the top of the towers along with all the others.

Then of course there were the years I spent working with racehorses, just after I left school. My father had racing connections and I went to work for them. Alternately shoveling the brown stuff and thundering along at 40 mph. I wanted to be a jockey.

Then there was working on my parents farm, milking cows, shoveling 500 tons of poo. Ploughing the fields and scattering. Getting off the tractor so cold that your legs collapsed.

The most fun job was starting my own photographic business from scratch, no capital, nuffink. Unfortunately after 12 years I lost the lot in the recession. I didn’t have to shovel poo in that one though.

Then there was the truck driving job, the warehouse job, the garage job, putting up a tented village job, the painting and decorating job.

But the one that sticks out was my first morning at a big car sales firm near here. If you see a helicopter on TV the chances are it belongs to them but their main business is car sales. I was working in an engineering factory as a cleaner and this firm advertised a better paid job doing a similar thing. So I changed jobs but I knew on my first morning that I had made a terrible mistake.

I turned up with sandwiches and a cup and tea bags, not knowing what facilities they had beacuse it is out of town. So it turned out that they didn’t have a kettle out the back but I as told that there was a staff kitchen at the front. So I went over with my tea cup and they had a sumptuous fitted kitchen there, some people were in there and I knew this was a family firm so I knocked on the door and asked if I could just scrounge some boiling water. Somebody said “Come in help yourself” so I went over to the kettle and touched the switch. Just as it began to boil the managing director of the company came in.

He glared at me and snapped “What are you doing in here this is for family only?” I tried to explain that it was my first day (which he knew) and I wasn’t prepared for the fact that there was no kettle out the back. So he grabbed my by the arm, ignored the boiling kettle and took me into the loo and said to use the water out of the tap. I should have walked out there and then but actually I toughed it out for three long weeks. I hated them and they hated me.

I think that was probably the worst one in terms of bad treatment.”

See Hear are thinking about making an item in the programme about ‘The Worst Job’ you know of.

They are looking for Deaf people to tell them about the worst jobs they have had, or the worst job in the world that you or your friends may have had.

Any sort of job that you think is really horrible. If you are Deaf please contact Joe at joe.collins@bbc.co.uk

Career opportunities for disabled people

21 10 2007

The Commission for Disabled Staff in Lifelong Learning, coordinated by NIACE, aims to investigate and report on current practices in the employment of disabled people in order to make recommendations that positively influence culture and practice and promote career opportunities for disabled people.

The interim report of the Commission was launched in September 2007. This report details the findings so far and highlights issues relating to the inequalities experienced by some disabled staff working in the lifelong learning sector.

The interim report is out to consultation until 7 December 2007. Everybody with an interest in disability issues in the lifelong learning sector is urged to respond to the consultation to advise whether the Commission has identified the key issues affecting disabled staff and what other issues should be explored and highlighted.

The Commission is also collecting evidence about personal experiences and employment practices through questionnaires until 16 November 2007.

In particular, the Commission wants to hear more about part-time and agency staff; people with mental health difficulties; people from black and minority ethnic groups; younger disabled staff; less qualified staff; and any instances of promising practice.

To provide evidence for the commission;

* Visit the NIACE website
* Email: Commissionfordisabledstaff@niace.org.uk; or
* Telephone Caroline Law, 0116 204 4249.

What do we mean by ‘Disabled staff?’
We are using a broad definition to include physical, sensory and cognitive impairments, mental health difficulties, long-term health conditions, learning disabilities and neurodiversity, learning differences or difficulties such as dyslexia or dyspraxia.

What do we mean by ‘Lifelong Learning?’
We want to include all organisations which provide education and training in the post-compulsory education sector including Further Education, Adult and Community Learning, Work-Based Learning, Higher Education, museums, libraries and others.

Conferences and reports
A conference to launch the final report of the Commission for Disabled Staff in Lifelong Learning will take place in London on 5 March 2008. To find out more visit NIACE Conferences

What is a ‘reasonable’ adjustment?

19 08 2007

I followed my own advice and got a new job two weeks ago. I’m now a careers adviser – it’s very different from being a finance manager but my communication support needs are the same as my disability hasn’t changed and neither has my preferred method of communication.

To date, making reasonable adjustments has become a major feature of my new role. I have been arguing with my case worker (I shall call him ‘Clueless’) at ATW (Access to Work) for four weeks for communication support, to which I am entitled by law. A request turned into an argument, which is typical of my experience.

To give you an idea of the kind of rubbish I have to deal with….. When I initially asked for a captioned telephone for my previous job, I was asked ‘why don’t you get an ordinary phone with a flashing light’? And this was after I had requested support and specified in great detail exactly what I needed, why I needed this particular kind of support, and how / why it would be beneficial to me in my post. I had a surprise recently when Clueless was invited to my office to discuss my ATW needs in my previous job, as I had been arguing for an increase to my allowance for six months. STTR support was set up for this meeting. Clueless admitted he had never seen a STTR before and hadn’t realised how it helped me. And he approves my allowance?! He spent the whole meeting mumbling to the table and using convoluted language. Helloooo, deaf awareness training, anybody? Six months of arguing for this support which is clearly needed to enable me to do my job?

The way I see it, it’s very simple. I am profoundly deaf and have been working for many years, therefore I am the best person to know what my personal communication needs and preferences are, and therefore my requirements, to enable me to carry out my required duties. ATW are there to provide the means to that support, and last year they had an underspend of £58 million. What do I require?

  • captioned telephony as I can’t hear on the phone but I can speak (the UK version has been updated to a web service which is in the final stages of development)
  • STTR – a speech to text reporter, sometimes known as a palantypist, as I can’t lip read people who mumble so would need one for client interviews, and I also can’t lip read every single person in a group meeting
  • I would have thought it was fairly straightforward to understand my communication needs.

    I requested a STTR for staff meetings and Clueless’s response was…

    Given Palantypist is very expensive as you know (about £250 for a half-day using STTR) I would need to know why the alternative of an ordinary interpreter could not help you in your staff meetings.

    What’s an *ordinary* interpreter? A sign language interpreter? I don’t use BSL. If Clueless had bothered to look in my file, it should be clear that I lip read, which is quite distinct from signing. I’ve never used a BSL interpreter, I have always used STTR. Why change now? Just because it’s cheaper?! Huh? And why is there an ‘alternative’…. an alternative to what? To being able to understand what everyone else is saying? And should the high daily charge of an STTR mean I can’t have one and should try something else that doesn’t work for me, just because it’s cheaper? If they are expensive, sorry but that’s really not my problem.

    I requested captioned phone support and Clueless asked me for a breakdown of how many incoming and outgoing calls would be made each week – how the heck should I know? Hang on, am I supposed to be telepathic? Do YOU know how many phone calls you will get each week? So I gave a guess as to how many hours a week I would use a phone. Clueless’s response was –

    x hours a week on phone duties – are you looking for an interpreter or a Communication Support Worker for this?

    What? BSL interpreting over the phone? Why would I want this? I spoke to a STTR who says they are sometimes asked to do speech to text for phone conversations, using a headset with a normal phone. That would mean booking a STTR for half day blocks or full day blocks, and I couldn’t ‘use’ the phone at other times, when I didn’t have a STTR available. Bang would go the freedom to use a phone whenever I want, I’d be depending on someone else being there to enable me to make or receive a phone call.

    I requested a STTR for client interviews and Clueless responded –

    x hours a week on interviewing duties. Again are we looking at an interpreter or a Communication Support Worker for this job?

    Clueless also wanted to know if there were any other deaf staff at my place of employment that are supported by ATW. He has in the past suggested to previous employers that I share my STTR with another staff member, to cut down the cost. Oh yeah, and what if we are in different meetings, and we have only got the one allowance for that day? What are we supposed to do, carve the STTR in half? Plus, ATW will cut the allowance as well, so there is even less support available for both staff members. No way, Jose.

    My new colleagues are shocked at the rudeness of Clueless’s correspondence and his attitude. I guess I’m used to it. One of them waded in and fired off a very firm email explaining what was required. The very next day, my support was approved. I am stunned. Do hearing people only take other hearing people seriously? Does Clueless think, because I have a disability, that he can mess me around?

    Now I have encountered another problem. I have meetings next week but have been unable to book a STTR as there are none available. There are not enough STTRs to go around and this is the holiday season. Scotland has no STTRs at all, the STTR I booked last week often travels from London to Scotland for a ten minute meeting. Why are there so few STTRs?

  • The course is expensive and difficult
  • There is no college in the UK – but there is one in Dublin (fancy commuting?)
  • It takes about 5 years to become proficient
  • The equipment is very expensive – keyboard and laptop
  • The keyboard has to be imported from the USA. It is not made in the UK anymore and the US supplier has a monopoly
  • Humph! Maybe the answer to all this is to learn BSL!

    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!