Employment What is the purpose of a career? A career provides a framework for life development; a sort of independence one can have in his or her life. Employment provides a person with the opportunity for social interaction and a salary with which to provide the resources needed to survive. Finding a job in America is not an easy task to say the least. So what are the odds of a hearing impaired person finding a job that is both of interest and ability level? If one is deaf the chances of finding a job are less than optimal. One that is deaf or hard of hearing must overcome prejudices and gain acceptance in order to become successful at their chosen career. Studies have shown that a majority of deaf workers are not in their particular career field out of choice.

So then, what types of professions are those of the deaf community occupying? Many of the jobs that the deaf hold are generally unskilled, semiskilled or otherwise manual occupations. Those that are of lost job security and little opportunity for advancement beyond entry-level. Those that pay low wages, primarily paying approximately 72% as much as the average hearing worker in the labor force. (Boone 1988) In the past, the career that most deaf people fall into is in some way related to printing, which according to Crammatte is not a professional occupation because those of the deaf community that are in professional occupations are a rare and anomalous group of workers. (Crammatte 1988) As well, the printing jobs are not by choice per say, but rather a job they are able to do because they are able to sustain the loud noises associated with printing without it affecting their work performance. (Crammatte 1988) The idea of the deaf not being able to speak, write intelligibly, or comprehend technical materials is also a continuing stereotype that hinders the employment of the dear (Fritz 1995).

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How does one go about finding a job? It is either by informal or formal means. Many hear about jobs through friends and ads, thus being informal. While others send out mass amounts of resumes to various companies in hopes of job openings. So if a deaf person is seeking a job and hears about it through another deaf friend, wouldn’t it seam likely that the job would be in some way relevantly related to the one that that person held, thus leading to even more deaf people in that particular field. This was found to be the case in the study conducted by Coye (Crammatte 1987). The study found that over half of the people employed in the deaf community were employed by the result of personal contacts during the job finding process. Next in line for finding jobs was placement by employment agencies, rehabilitation counselors and other placement agencies.

As a last resort approximately 16% of the people surveyed in Crammatte’s study found employment through direct application in which they would send a resume to a company without knowing if any jobs were available beforehand. Now that the person has heard about the job how does he or she go about getting the job? Lets look at a few prominent factors that are related to the job searching process. The number one factor would seem to be communication. How does a hearing impaired person interview for a position to his or her fullest extent without having a common language to use? There are many options that the deaf person has such as bringing an interpreter, using pen and paper, or as Warnow explains, using a voice system. Many are familiar with sign and writing so lets examine the voice system Warnow presented in his Deaf Employment: 2001 article.

According to Warnow, “`VOICE’ equipment enables deaf employees to communicate face-to-face in English with their hearing co-workers — no sign language, no interpreter-assistance.” The voice equipment seems to be a device that both the employer and the employee will have that will allow them to type to each other. The devices are portable and can be provided to those requiring them without charge by the service providers for a set amount of time. If the deaf person becomes employed by the company the devices can be purchased by the company. These devices seem to be equivalent to a TDD except that they are used in person rather than on the telephone. Another aspect to take into consideration when looking at the jobs those of the Deaf culture are engaged in is whether the job lies in the deaf sector, those that are directly serving hearing-impaired people or which employ deaf people because of their hearing status, or of the hearing sector, those which serve the general public.

The studies show that those that found their current job as a result of a personal contact were more likely to have a job in the deaf sector in response to the contact generally being a part of the deaf community. This is not to say that all contacts that those that are hearing-impaired have are with those of similar status but it is commonly found. (Crammatte 1987) Now that the deaf person is on the job scene adjusting will have to occur, both on the part of the new employee and existing employees. Interaction between the two groups is vital to a comfortable and functional working environment. The interacting will only be as difficult as the two groups make it. Although, the hearing-impaired person must work harder sometimes in order to get the information needed to successfully communicate with the group of new people. Fritz emphasizes four way to help hearing-impaired employees and their co-workers through the adjustment period. Such as, “buddy or mentoring systems, periodic meetings, counseling sessions, and inclusion in all social gatherings.” (Fritz 1995) A combination of all of these tactics has shown that the feeling of isolation is minimized, communication becomes easier, anxiety is eliminated, situations are not as intense and feedback between the two groups is aimed more at ways to break the barrier rather then dwell on it.

(Fritz 1995) Just because someone is deaf does not mean that they cannot maintain and be successful at an occupation that are usually occupied by those that are hearing. Once the person has heard about a job it is up to them to go after it. One must ignore the preconceived notions that they think all employers hold regarding having deaf employees and just go for the job if they feel they are as qualified as anyone else. It should also be up to them to provide a way to communicate with the employer. It is not up to the employer to provide means of communication at the interview. All in all, communication is the key to a successful career and if one feel that they can overcome any barriers that may be present within a work place then they need to take the initiative to be successful in that chosen profession.

Speech and Communications.


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