OK - What's it like to be a Deaf person trying to find a job?
Updated: Mar 27
Searching for a job for a Deaf or Hard of Hearing person is one of the most frustrating experiences many deaf people have. They will probably face linguistic complications, discrimination and lack of deaf awareness.
It's important to know which are the legal rights when looking for a job and also how to utilise all the resources available to help during you; such as sign language interpreters.
If a Deaf/HoH person chooses to search, apply, gain communication support at interview all by themselves, they will have to face some different challenges:
☛ APPLICATION CHALLENGES
The first challenge that the Deaf/HoH person could come across is understanding the job specs or job titles. Different grammatical structures and wordy information could be a nightmare.
✉ COVER LETTERS - LIE OR NOT TO LIE?
Many Deaf people prefer not to mention that they are Deaf or Hard of Hearing in their cover letters or CVs for fear of the pre-screened.
It is well known (hard to prove) that some of the Deaf candidates wont pass the first cut due to misconceptions that will make employers wary of hiring Deaf applicants.
ツ YAY! THEY ARE INTERESTED!
You get the email invite from the company that they are interested in arranging a job interview…. Please call…
➤ The worst thing that could happen is that they try to contact the Deaf/HoH person by phone... Not a good start... But then if they don’t know you are Deaf/HOH?!
➤ The best thing that could happen is that they contact the applicant through a website date and time confirmation, not a wordy and not-easily comprehensible email.
✔ ARRANGING INTERPRETER SUPPORT – DO YOU DO IT OR DOES THE EMPLOYER?
Under the Equalities Act 2010 all employers have a statutory duty to safeguard against discrimination on the grounds of disability; not only employees but potential job applicants. Employers should ask applicants whether or not they require any adjustments at interview stage; an interpreter for example. It is expected and important for employers to plan ahead.
The applicant can ask the employer to book you an interpreter and give them the names and numbers of people they like to work with, or an favourite agency.
The applicant could apply to Access to Work for communication support at interview. Apply online, wait for a wordy email to confirm 1 – they can talk to you, 2 details of the job. All time consuming and not very clear. Don’t forget if the applicant chooses this route they need at least a weeks’ notice of the interview. Will they have that if they have not requested it from the potential employer?
☂ THE DAY OF THE INTERVIEW
The applicant is dressed appropriately for that company, they have all their documents ready, planned their travel and ready to go.
The Deaf/HoH person attends the interview ready to beat the other applicants to the post, but suddenly the Deaf/HoH person finds that the interviewer has a complete lack of Deaf awareness, maybe the interpreter is not there?
That person is now feeling uncomfortable, even he/she could have feelings of rejection... They both could miss most of the conversation and have some misunderstandings.
Not an easy experience...
★ WHAT IF... HE/SHE HAS BEEN OFFERED THE JOB... CONGRATULATIONS!
Even once they beat the odds, gain the job offer, there still may be additional challenges to face?!
Is the company deaf aware, the supervisor or co-worker? They may not be familiar with deafness or have experience working with a Deaf person.
Have they contacted Access to Work to gain a budget for support? Or is that down to you, the Deaf person again?
Co-workers might expect Deaf people to process knowledge and communicate as quickly as hearing people. Expectations of lip-reading or wordy emails or notes again… hurumph! Of course a Deaf person can do the same things as their hearing peers; sometimes even better!
A Deaf person can do anything but hear. Assumption could mean the Deaf/HoH employee being seen as incapable, or lack intelligence leaving them ostracised by their co-workers and vulnerable to poor job evaluations.
♥ FAMILIAR? DO YOU KNOW SOMEONE IN THE SAME SITUATION?
WHAT'S THE SOLUTION?
If you are Deaf or Hard of hearing and feel isolated by the process of finding and securing work, you could follow two simple steps in order to find good support that helps you boost your chances of getting a job:
Find a good Job Club that assists you during your employment search. Here at Deaf Umbrella, our friendly team will help and support you in your first language to reach the same job opportunities the rest of the candidates have.
Let us guide you through the process of Access to Work (AtW) applications. Learn all the steps so you can cope alone in the future if you have too. Different services will be offered to you and your employer, such as a BSL interpreter or lip-speaker during the job interview, communication support workers or interpreters for in work support, special equipment or adaptations to your workplace. Its all there for you, we can help you find what you need.
If you are an employer and you have a Deaf/HoH employee working for you, and you want to offer him/her an accessible working environment or meet your statutory duty at all stages of the recruitment process; contact us.
We can make your life easier with one call; we’ve got you covered!
Connect with us on LinkedIn now.