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Tuesday, November 13, 2012

How to Spot Discrimination Against Deafness

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I believe anyone who is deaf would remember this video from ABC television show, "What Would You Do?" with a subtitle of "What Would You Do If You Saw Someone Discriminate Against A Deaf Applicant?". Two students of Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf were acting as a Deaf applicant and an ASL interpreter to experiment whether or not anyone would speak up when they see discrimination.

What actually caught my attention was a woman (her face was blurred for her safety)
told a cafe manager not to tell a Deaf applicant his real reason for not hiring her. What she meant was as a manager, you aren't supposed to tell a job applicant that you don't want to hire her or him because s/he is deaf. Otherwise, you'll be facing possible discrimination lawsuit. And guess what? She worked in Human Resources. Who knows what goes on in Human Resource Services? Have you noticed how strangers rarely stood up for the girls? Sad, but that's the world we live in. At least, it's eye-opening for every deaf person out there.

Based on research studies and my experience, I'm writing about the signs of discrimination against your deafness

1. When you tell a hiring manager you are deaf and that you need an interpreter in an email or on the phone, they either don't answer or simply say
they will get back to you but never do.

2. You tell them that you are deaf or hard of hearing in an email, but they don't respond to your email message.

3. You call someone about a job using a relay call, and as soon as the operator indicates that you're deaf, they hang up on you.

While you are being interviewed, you see a concerned look on an interviewer's face when you are signing (with your interpreter being there, of course).

5. When you go to a place to apply for job in person, you notice a manager goes somewhere else to avoid you, and when you approach them, they are reluctant to take your application. 

6. A manager tells you the job may not be right for you because of your deafness.

7. An interviewer asks if you can speak or hear clearly. They even ask you if you can read or write.

8. When you are done with your job interview, they say they'll call you but never do. When you call or email to follow up, they don't respond to any of your calls or email messages.

9. During the interview, they test your skills by giving you a work sample but don't do the same to hearing applicants.

10. Your manager
treats you different than how they treat others. They give you a hard time, are being disrespectful to you, and/or are taking advantage of you. 

11. They never give you a promotion or let you climb up the corporate ladder.

12. They don't give you a raise.

13. After finding out you're deaf, they refuse to speak with you in person. 

 I will come back here to update if there is anything else I can think of.

UPDATED: The list I made above is just to show you that the employers don't want anything to do with your deafness. All of them are based on deaf people's true stories, including me. Some people think that employers can't blatantly tell deaf people they have a problem with their deafness. Well, that is untrue because it has happened to me and some other deaf people. Some employers will tell you like it is, some won't.

It is important to notice that just because it's only your words against theirs does not mean you can't file an EEOC complaint against them. It is up to EEOC to decide whether or not that is discrimination, and they also will investigate your case to determine if they violate the law
If you ever face serious employment discrimination , do not be afraid to speak up and go to EEOC to file a complaint against company or someone who discriminates against you. Even if EEOC finds that the company do not violate any law, don't be discouraged. Keep in mind that whenever you find yourself being discriminated, stand up for yourself and the deaf community.

The next article will be about
what you should do and what you shouldn't do when applying for job or going to your job interview. Thanks for the reading and stay tuned!


  1. I have been looking for a job for 13 months now, after being laid off. In nearly all of my interviews, I have been informed that the companies are downsizing, so the employees are expected to shoulder various responsibilities for each other, which is understandable. Their typical question is "how are you able to answer the telephone?" I respond accordingly, explaining about VRS, explaining about sharing job responsibilities with co-workers, etc... and yet, I have to hear back from these companies. Is this grounds for potential discrimination?

    1. It could be because they have never heard of VRS or special relay call and are not ready to deal with that type of thing. You did a great job of explaining VRS and things like that to your interviewers, though.

      It has to be a form of discrimination. I don't see why you shouldn't file out an EEOC form. I think you should go ahead and file a complaint now. Don't wait until it's too late. Make sure you tell them everything that happened in interviews.

      Good luck and keep looking!

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  3. I am deaf myself I do not need VRS or interputer why They will not do their job and I got more job done just by write on piece of paper show the person I can and roll my long sleeve up always wear long shirt with button when manager said no roll sleeve up and show them how much power you got!!!!!

  4. Chad, I am not quiet sure you say You decide to not use VRS interpreter. Talk to EEOC.. Your message seem confused for deaf community.

  5. At my work, it took my employer 2 years to install flashing lights on the fire alarms so Deaf workers would know there was an emergency. AND, our supervisor wouldn't let us sign in the morning standup meetings so my Deaf friend didn't know what was going on-even when the information was critical and related to her job. We had to go to the executive director at our company and inform him of this. After that, she had to let me sign to my friend-either that or pay an interpreter for a 5 minute meeting. VICTORY! Every effort helps!

  6. This is a good article. I thought I should add some thoughts about this.

    Employment discrimination is a way of life. Even though it is legally unacceptable to discriminate people, it unfortunately exists. Bad economy and great recession made this possible. I can tell you that increasing minimum wages will only increase discrimination because they will want to hire the best of the best (or most gullible/dependable workers). In a business sense, why should they hire people with any kind of disabilities if they will slow you down at work? That is something to think about before you can voice loudly for increase in minimum ages.

    Rouge interpreters are probably the biggest barriers for Deaf prospects right now. I personally know that interpreters demand to be pay on the spot before that they can conduct the interview. Due to this experience, employers are VERY reluctant to hire Deaf people due to this experience, and Deaf applicants can never know why. I had an experience that people at the orientation had to deal with a rouge interpreter for good two hours because he doesn't believe in taking the oath for USA government before he can interpret. It gotten so bad that both of us almost got dismissed. I had to educate her that she can simply replace the interpreter who is willing. Of course, I am not happy about it at all.

    Deaf people generally are comfortable with SSDI/SSI. It gotten to the point that they literally live off on it. They found suitable alternative incomes in selling drugs, exploiting Deaf children's SSDI/SSI selling bodies for sex or others. If you ever seen one driving a nice car or owning a nice home while on SSDI/SSI, you have to wonder where they come from.

    I am frankly sick of people saying that white male discriminated Deaf people the most. From my personal experience, it is the young interviewer who is the worst of them all REGARDLESS of race and gender. Older interviews are generally more receptive and tolerant than younger counterparts.

    The best way to fire a Deaf person is basically to get a manager of color (almost always black) and put them down at all costs. As soon as you are terminated, you pretty much cannot file a claim against the employer. I see that happening and I even heard about it happening. It is ridiculous, but like it or not, that is pretty much the norm in devising a measure to terminate Deaf employees without clause.

    Hearing aids, cochlear implants, no speech and garbled speech are now new Star of David. Like it or not, this is the reality that we are facing in this world.

    There are work at Deaf schools, but I am seeing the pattern that it is ridden with neopolism and favorism. Some schools prefer home grown students while other schools prefer to hire Gallaudent alumnis or those who are married to one.

    The best way for Deaf people to survive in this economy is to be flexible. Transfer your BS credits degrees to community college and collect as many AA degrees as you can. Make your degrees relevant and work as many temporary jobs AND DO NOT COMPLAIN ABOUT IT! Just shut it and be adaptable. In this economy, it is the survival of the fittest. Accept temp. Accept minimum wages. Be aggressive. Be proactive. Use your network. Kick ass. No Excuse. No attitude excepting the mission to find a career!

  7. This was a great post, thank you! I recently read an article on Martin Luther King Jr. and discrimination against those with hearing loss that I think you and others might find interesting: