How is it like to be a Hard of Hearing Immigrant in Tech?

by Anonymous

As someone who is hard of hearing, asking people to repeat themselves has always been embarrassing for me. Once the pandemic hit the world, a new task had been added to the list of embarrassment: asking someone to pull their mask down and having to explain why.

Aside for my passion and interest in IT, I chose my career because computers can’t talk.  Reading from a monitor instead of reading lips is convenient and much easier to interpret.  I never would have anticipated that the challenges that I and the hard of hearing community face would have dramatically increased.

As a fresh graduate in the times of the pandemic, getting my feet in the door of employment when everyone was getting theirs out was one of the hardest challenges I had to face. How am I going to hear on virtual interviews when I am already struggling with phone calls? Thanks to video conferencing platforms with live captioning, this has become more feasible than I thought.

When captions failed, I had to come up with excuses as to why I was unable to hear. Glitchy internet and poor speakers seemed to do the trick because otherwise, it is extremely easy for an employer to lose confidence in a job applicant when they realize that I have a hearing loss. Being able to receive phone calls in IT is mandatory and there are typically minimal, if any, accessible alternatives provided in these circumstances. I found that every time I choose to disclose my hearing loss to a potential employer, I am doubling my chances of being not considered for the job.  When I choose not to, I am advancing to the next step.  This is more than a coincidence.

I can hear your thoughts: what about employment resources available for people with disabilities? As a hard of hearing immigrant, these resources were out of my reach. I had to pave my own road in navigating the system. I had to continuously prove that I am capable to do the job despite my hearing loss.

After many job applications and interviews, six months later, I am now signing my first IT support contract during the pandemic hoping that I be retained in the workplace for the future.

A future that has changed for the world and has compounded many of the challenges we face.