By Keegan Noxell
It is a well-published fact that deaf and hard of hearing people often face challenges such as, discriminatory hiring practices, misconceptions on the employer’s part and barriers to job advancement opportunities while entering and remaining in the workforce. According to Statistics Canada, in 2016 the employment rate of working-age adults with a hearing loss is 47.9% – much lower than the employment rate for adults without a disability (73.6%).
What many employers may not realize is that there are many hard of hearing individuals studying and working in nearly every field imaginable. The work ethic, above average attendance and unique perspectives they offer are just a few of the benefits of hiring us deaf and hard of hearing individuals. Furthermore, they can become invaluable members of the workforce and contribute to the company’s overall success.
Here are some key benefits to employing those with a hearing loss:
- We are said to be very adaptable, as we face numerous challenges throughout our lives, which means we the ability to tackle challenges or work assignments differently than our hearing colleagues may have thought possible. Our drive and determination will likely exceed those of our abled co-workers.
- It goes without saying that we can offer a unique perspective based on our life experiences that can contribute to the task at hand, which may not have been considered otherwise. With our input, it can also positively improve products and/or services to be more inclusive for all consumers.
- We are very detail-oriented and take good notes, that can benefit our fellow co-workers and employer after meetings with clients and suppliers and complements what has been retained verbally by others.
- We rely heavily on our other senses (i.e. visual cues) to compensate for our lack of hearing. Our attention to surroundings and body language of others during meetings can provide us valuable insight into how the person speaking feels. There can often be a mismatch between what is spoken and their body language, which may very well be overlooked by our hearing peers if they are just focusing on what they hear.
- We are very loyal to those who grant us opportunities as they tend to be harder to come by.
- As hard of hearing individuals, we have a variety of technology available that enables us to bridge the communication barrier(s) we may otherwise face with our peers. In addition to hearing aids and cochlear implants (CI), we use FM systems, wireless devices with Bluetooth technology and other essentials (i.e. telephone, mobile applications, etc.) that are designed for those with a hearing loss.
You may be wondering if there is evidence of these advantages. Well, it is well-known that deaf and hard of hearing individuals spend the majority of their daily life adapting to their surroundings and situations, which translates to patience in the event of an obstacle. Further, we tend to employ our out-of-the-box thinking and analytical problem-solving skills.
In summary, deaf and hard of hearing employees can be just as capable at their jobs compared to those with full hearing. The advantages far exceed the disadvantages when it comes to employing those of us with a hearing loss. They can be of benefit to those around them and bring a more diverse, engaged and equal-opportunity work environment, which are highly sought-after by companies and employees alike.