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Work and Being Deaf

Finding Jobs, Facing Discrimination

By

Updated February 27, 2011

Finding work can be challenging for a deaf or hard of hearing person. Deaf and hard of hearing people may experience discrimination, both before and after finding employment. An employer or co-worker may be uncomfortable with deafness. In addition, hearing people may be interested in jobs that involve the use of sign language.

Before You Start Working

Preparation for a career begins while still in college, with internships. Culturally deaf people may struggle with the choice over whether to work in the deaf community or in the hearing world. For those deaf or hard of hearing people who need extra help, Vocational Rehabilitation services are there to help. And, like hearing people, many deaf people decide to start their own businesses.

Summer Co-ops and Internships - About my internship experiences as a deaf college student in the hearing world.

Career Choices - Work in Deaf World or Hearing World? - As a young adult, I wrestled with a choice that young deaf adults often face - should they opt for careers within the deaf world, or should they take jobs in the hearing world?

Vocational Rehabilitation - State vocational rehabilitation agencies are an important key to a college education or employment for deaf people.

Deaf and Hard of Hearing Business Owners - Many deaf and hard of hearing people have successfully launched their own businesses.

Looking for a Job

Searching for a job when you are deaf or hard of hearing is one of the most frustrating experiences many deaf people have. It is important to know your legal rights when looking for a job. It is also equally important to utilize any and all resources available, especially interpreters. Many deaf and hard of hearing people have shared their personal stories of discrimination encountered in the job search. Plus, for deaf people who wish to work only in the deaf community, there are specialized job sites.

Legal Rights for Deaf and Hard of Hearing - There are laws, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act, that protect the legal rights of deaf people with regard to employment.

Job Searching Discrimination - Finding a job when you are deaf can be challenging because of both overt and subtle discrimination. Even I have experienced this. About.com readers share their own employment discrimination examples on the discrimination examples page.

Employment Resources in the Deaf Community - Suggested resources for finding employment in the deaf community. Job Hunting - Use an Interpreter - I learned the hard way the importance of using an interpreter when looking for a job.

After You Start Working

Even after a deaf person is hired, there still may be additional challenges. The company, supervisor, or a co-worker may not be familiar with deafness or have experience working with deaf people. In more severe cases, the deaf or hard of hearing person may face harassment due to having a hearing loss.

Information on Deafness for Employers Employers who are not familiar with deafness, can find resources with information on how to work with deaf people.

Making Supervisors and Co-Workers Comfortable with Deafness - A key part of success for deaf employees is helping their supervisors and co workers to become comfortable with deafness. Here are some resources for doing so.

Workplace Harassment of Deaf People - It fortunately does not happen often, but it can and does happen - deaf and hard of hearing people being harassed on the job solely because of their hearing loss.

If You Lose Your Job

If you are deaf and lose your job, you may be eligible for Social Security Disability Income (SSDI).

Jobs for Hearing People

Hearing people are often interested in working with deaf people or in jobs that benefit deaf people, but may be unfamiliar with the career options open to them. These career options for working with deaf people are widely varied, and do not necessarily require fluency in sign language.

Careers for Hearing People in Deafness - There are many options open to hearing people in working with deaf people. Interpreting is just one of the many options.

Careers Involving Sign Language - Hearing people who have learned sign language often wonder what they can do with that skill. There are career fields that need someone who can sign.

Becoming an Interpreter - Hearing people who want to become interpreters can find information on how to become an interpreter.

How to Become a Captioner - Captioning does not require knowledge of sign language, and is an important career field because it provides media access to deaf and hard of hearing people.

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