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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Think Lowest Level Jobs are Perfect for Deaf Persons?

Hearing people do not bluntly come out and say the lowest level jobs are good for deaf people, but their actions speak louder than words. For example, employment service agencies (for persons with disabilities or deaf/hoh individuals) who always seem to have connections with retail stores like Walmart, Target, Walgreen, T.J. Maxx, and so on that will help deaf and hard of hearing individuals get their feet in the door of these stores. I am not talking about just any clients but intelligent and college-educated Deaf clients. I am talking about professional Deaf clients who are seeking a professional career in their field of study or something similar to what they have studied.

What I really don't get is that Vocational Rehabilitation Services have paid for their clients' college tuitions, books, transportation, and other fees, and then, after college graduation, they could only help their clients find a job that's too low for their educational level like a dishwashing job. So, what's wrong with this picture?

I strongly believe that you can't work your way up to a higher level if you don't start with a lower one first. But the real problem is, most deaf people seemed to be stuck in that same type of level for a long time. They are either likely to get fired or not being able to climb up a ladder. 

I can't tell you how many times I have heard that Deaf people, who have a degree in graphic design, have trouble landing a job in graphic design industries. Not all of them, of course, but it's more than often that they have a hard time finding one that they are qualified for. I have two friends who graduated with a graphic design degree; one of them ends up working in a retail store, and other one stays at home, struggling to find work. It's not just about graphic design, it's about any profession of your choice that you just can't seem to seize a job. 

Some people told me it was because of the economy we are in today that we, deaf people, would be most likely to face challenges in employment, and I started to believe it was the only reason we were in deep trouble. However, I changed my mind after doing a thoroughly research on people with disabilities for employment and have concluded that even in good times, the unemployment rate for people with disabilities would still remain about the same percentage as it is today. So, it's not good, right? Well, the economic crisis is no longer an excuse for deaf people having trouble to find a job. It's just always been like this based on these statistics.

Now, what happened? Why don't we fight enough for our rights to be equal to hearing people? Why are we allowing hiring employers to mistreat us? If we don't fight for ourselves, no one else is going to fight for us. I have seen how easily some deaf people have given up the hope of finding a job and settled for SSI/SSDI instead. It isn't enough to put themselves over the roof, pay the bills, and food. There's a high price for basic living. They aren't able to find a job that they can make enough income to live on, so they are forced to depend on limited income like SSI or SSDI. Not only do they depend on SSI/SSDI, but they also depend on other people for their basic needs.

What must we do about this? Are there any solutions to the problems we have now?

The next blog post will be about options for starting a home-based website business, so stay tuned! 


  1. You are totally spot on! Approximately 17 years ago, I worked for a "hearing" company, doing financial transactions. I left that company when I struggled with the manager, with regards to my communication accessibility. It was not an easy decision, but oh so necessary.

    I then worked for a company where communication was not an issue - what a nice change... however, my opportunity to move up was nearly nonexistent!! (despite the fact I have nearly 20 years of work experience and a Bachelor degree). What a disappointment.

    Fine. I went back to school and received my Masters. Here I am - still struggling for equal footing as my peers. What?! Why??

    I am noticing with a few friends that are looking for employment - hiring managers want people to be able to multi-task. As we all know, Deaf people are one of the best with multi-tasking skills! Unfortunately, these companies expect phone skills to be include with their perception of multi-tasking work. Sigh.

    One thing I can think of is to keep going with what we are doing, aim higher at the same time, and hopefully we will be noticed. That is what I am doing. My hopes is that this will pay off.

    1. There are so, so many obstacles we are dealing with on the road to success. I agree that the most important thing is to have positive attitude in spite of our struggles. Without that, it would probably drag us into the dark hole of no hope.

      I believe the video relay should provide a solution for deaf people who are interested in office jobs that involve phone skills. We have to do the best we can to explain how it's done to hiring employers.

      Best of luck!

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  3. The problem is not how "high" a job is. The problem is oral communications and hearing requirements, however unnecessary, for various jobs, and this is what needs to be amended. The captioned telephone services are improving; however, there is still a delay between the caller and the person being called. Nonetheless, there are numerous jobs that can be produced for deaf people if the tasks typical to new positions are arranged slightly differently.

    1. Captioned telephone services? Where you have been? Cave?

      Sounds like you know nothing about Deaf culture & its accomodate accessibilities.

  4. Hi STerras, can you add comment about parent don't open mind about deaf because my parent never let me go anywhere like clubs or events. Also, they never let me date :( they are project over me. my siblings happy and perfect life. i am alone deaf. My parent believed deaf can't have fun anything. they asked me too much questions me who is girl and boy? why i invite them? what for? that is wrong! they don't ever understand deaf can fun or can date. can you write here about hearing family please? thanks.