Wednesday 20 January 2016

Deaf Girly's employment issue

This year, it will be thirteen years since I stepped out of my post graduate course and into the big bad world of work. Thirteen years of working my up, in and around a career I had dreamt of doing since I could talk.

Recently, I decided to go self employed to enable me to pursue my own stuff – writing mainly. I've written a book you know, it's not perfect yet, but it's coming and maybe one day, someone will publish it and yay, that'll be great.

In my thirteen years of work, I've been pretty lucky. I can count on one hand the number of times I've felt that I probably missed out on a job because of my deafness. And until today, I could count on one finger the times I definitely knew.

But today, the second time occurred and I was totally unprepared for it.

You see, I'm lucky enough to get most of my work from one amazing company. A company that has always supported me and my deafness. Who makes no issue of it. Who knows that I can do my job with or without ears. But I thought I should probably put myself out there a bit more to ensure all the days of the month were filled with paid work. Or as many as possible.

So today, in response to me sending in my CV for work, a company contacted me and requested a short phone call pre-interview stage after noting I had all the skills they were looking for. I had scrutinised the job advert for any mention of needing to use the phone and there were none. So I wrote a quick, polite reply explaining that I was 'hard of hearing' – I felt less likely to scare them than 'deaf' – and could we do it over email.

'It'll be fine,' I thought confidently. 'This is 2016. People don't discriminate against hearing loss when the job description makes no mention of phone use.'

'It'll be fine,' I thought less confidently some time later, when I'd had no reply.

'Maybe it won't be fine,' I thought sadly, as I realised that someone somewhere was working out how to get out of telling me I fitted the requirements of the role.

And then a few moments later I was put out of in to my misery.

It wasn't fine. I wasn't suitable for the role.

But the thing is, how – from the description of 'Hard of Hearing' I gave can that person who has never met me know that I am not suitable for the role? How, without asking how I've very successfully made a career over the last thirteen years – all visible on my CV – can that person possibly judge my efficiency of communicating without the conventional telephone call?

I would understand it if I'd applied for something massively outside of my 'hearing' limits. If I'd applied to work as a receptionist, PA, call centre person, or any of the other roles where hearing is kind of essential.

I mean, I would secretly love to be a personal assistant. If I had hearing, it'd be the job I'd do for fun. Organising, sorting, making things happen. But I would NEVER apply to be one as a deaf person because I just don't think without hearing I'd make a very good one.

That is however irrelevant because I chose a career where hearing shouldn't be an issue. With careful guidance from an amazing person early on, I chose a section of my industry where I would face the least discrimination. And until today it's worked marvellously.

Earlier, as I was having a cry in the toilets, I realised how lucky I am to have got this far and faced so little discrimination. How lucky I am to have had amazing support from amazing employers. And how lucky I am that I won't have to work for the people who today deemed me not acceptable for a role I could have definitely made work. If they'd just given me a chance.

Sometimes that things that aren't meant to be are definitely for the best because they leave us free to pursue our proper dreams and the things that are true to who we actually are, rather than just earn us money.

Happy hump-day peeps



Jennifer said...

I actually know of two hard of hearing people who work at reception desks, answering phones, etc. - with the right devices, it is no trouble at all! I even know of a therapist who is hard of hearing - and her job is 90% listening to people talk. There is nothing stopping you from doing what you want to do - except the closed-minded attitudes of others.

Tracey said...

That's absolutely dreadful to have happened to you, but it probably feels really difficult to make a fuss about it. One of the things I blog about is people's experiences of work and I'm hoping this story about a telephone call handler might demonstrate that hearing loss shouldn't be a barrier in the majority of career choices.

Anonymous said...

So cross for you. Could you try one of the text type phones? I'm not s urge how it works but worth finding out x

DeafGirly: How I feel about being deaf at work

It's been a whole year since I posted a blog on here. Life's been happening. And I guess I am no longer 'deaf in the city and ha...