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Deaf Employment: 

Deaf Employment
By JessicaWhite
3/31/2009

As a student graduating this May, I find myself incredibly nervous about what awaits me after the cap & gown have been worn. In the economic times that we are in, it seems very scary to be a young person searching for a job. Because I am so scared about the direction of my life, this sparked my curiosity about others who will be looking for jobs in the “real world”. I began to wonder about the employment opportunities for those in the deaf community. Besides working as interpreters or in the teaching field, I wonder whether they would have the same opportunities as those who can hear.

One's perception of the deaf community may lead many people to believe that their problems with or their inability to hear may drastically affect what profession they decide to pursue. Associate professor of Business Administration Alan B. Crammatte from Gallaudet College, claims otherwise. He conducted many interviews with deaf students, and although their deafness was a factor, it was not the only factor. “The deaf man’s choice, however, must go beyond compatibility, competence and training. He must consider whether, once trained, he can overcome prejudice and gain acceptance- whether his ears of his skills will determine his employment opportunities” (Crammatte 56). While deciding on a career, members of the deaf community must take their hearing problems into account along with the environment in which they would feel most comfortable. Although, according to Crammatte, only a third of the respondents he interviewed said they were discriminated against, the biggest problem with applying for their first job and connecting to their coworkers was directly related to simply “breaking the ice”.

Another element to deaf employment comes directly from the employers themselves. Although the deaf often excel in the workplace, there are many questions that must be raised and considered by the managers and employees. In her book, Working with Deaf People, Susan B. Foster states that there are five factors that must be looked at before employing a deaf person. These factors include characteristics of the applicant, urgency in filling the position, personal recommendations, the perspective of the hiring supervisor and the organizational policy. (13) It is true that historically the deaf have not received the same employment opportunities as hearing people, but with awareness comes openness. Throughout the years, ample employment opportunities have become a reality. This was not always the case. In W.H. Woods The Forgotten People, he writes that, “there is evidence of job scarcity all over the country” (65). He goes on to say that “parents must wake up, and get the schools for the deaf and the deaf themselves to act, to end discrimination” (Woods 185). Woods book was written in 1972, and since that time the progress that has been made in regards to prejudice and acceptance of the deaf in the work place has been remarkable.

Although there is still much to be done in order to make the job market fair for all applying, the improvements that have been made show the growing need within people to provide equal chances for all.

Sources:

Crammatte, A. (1968). Deaf Persons in Professional Employment. Springfield, Illinois: Charles C. Thomas Publisher.

Foster, S. (1992). Working with Deaf People: Accessibility and Accommodation in the Workplace. Springfield, Illinois: Charles C. Thomas Publisher.

Woods, W.H. (1972). The Forgotten People. St. Petersburg, Florida: Dixie Press.

 


 


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