What advice would you give a Deaf/Hard of Hearing person who is looking for a job, career, or calling like yours?
July 13, 2012 6:15 PM   Subscribe

This website aims to show the wide variety of jobs, careers and callings that deaf and hard of hearing adults are pursuing each day. Interviews with and biographies of deaf and hard of hearing people at work, some of them in careers you might not expect, like a firefighter, a veterinarian, and a comedian.
posted by desjardins (10 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
A lot of big commercial printing facilities --- like newspaper presses --- used to have very large percentages of deaf/hard of hearing employees: the presses were very loud, and one of the best ways to communicate over the roar was sign language.
posted by easily confused at 7:20 PM on July 13, 2012

some of them in careers you might not expect

Beethoven.Symphony 9
posted by twoleftfeet at 7:35 PM on July 13, 2012

At my former maritime museum, one of the shipwrights is deaf. He'd make an interesting interview.
posted by Miko at 7:45 PM on July 13, 2012

As a West Wing fan, I'm always impressed at how Marlee Matlin was able to force her talent through her handicap to be so good at acting that it is worth writing in a deaf character just so that she can play it.
posted by Navelgazer at 9:38 PM on July 13, 2012

.... firefighter?
In think I just discovered a new level of scepticism.
posted by Mezentian at 10:47 PM on July 13, 2012

He's a volunteer, not a professional firefighter:
Neil McDevitt, a volunteer firefighter with the Montgomery Township Fire Department in Pennsylvania. Neil has been a volunteer with the department since 2003. When he’s not on duty, he works full time as a Program Director for the Community Emergency Preparedness Information Network (CEPIN) at Telecommunications for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Inc. (TDI).
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 11:19 PM on July 13, 2012

But he's on the frontline, even as a vollie. I can't imagine how that would work, and that article is short on details.

If it was just being a face of the department, doing PR and interpreting and comms, I could see.
But firefighting involves a lot of shouting and needed to know about your immediate environment.

Don't get me wrong, all these links are awesome, and I can easily see how somethings are done, but the actual act of firefighting? I'm incapable of imagining it.
posted by Mezentian at 11:44 PM on July 13, 2012

firefighting involves a lot of shouting

Because it's a noisy environment?

As long as you can see, being deaf eliminates the need to shout to be heard.

I understand in fighting fires you can't always see, but I'm also certain there are smart ways to deploy someone who doesn't hear.
posted by Miko at 6:16 AM on July 14, 2012

I really enjoyed reading this. Part of the experience of being hard of hearing is that it varies greatly for everyone under that umbrella. Even if you have, say, the exact same congenital hearing loss as another person, your experience with that will vary greatly based on the age of detection and the support systems you receive. The woman who was in foster care whose impairment was not noticed by caregivers until she was 13 is going to have a vastly different way of handling her impairment than someone with the same hearing loss who had the same caregivers the whole time and has been in support systems since a few months of age. And yet they can both succeed.

As for the firefighter, he seems to be trained as an EMT. It is possible that he doesn't go into the buildings but stays with the truck and performs support from there. There are lots of things he could do to be useful. Part of being deaf/HOH is convincing other people that just because they can't imagine doing something without hearing does not mean that it is not possible, or that with some basic modifications of procedure or scope, someone who is deaf/HOH couldn't contribute in a valuable way.

Think, if someone is looking at you, mouth open, eyes wide, eyebrows up, head jutting forward, and they are pushing air from left to right, are you going to say, "hey dude, I can't hear you, can you speak up?" or are you going to start moving right and then ask questions? Because when something is falling above you that is how people communicate, even between hearing individuals. No one stands there blank-faced saying, "Sir, it is possible in the next few moments you may be crushed by a falling object, so I would advise that you move."

People communicate in a variety of ways in every situation, emergency situations even more so, and deaf/HOH individuals grow to understand the nuances of non-verbal communication that qualifies them to do a lot more than people who have never experienced hearing loss might think. Probably the volunteer firefighter does not do everything that the professional firefighters do, or even that his fellow volunteers do. But that does not mean he can't meaningfully contribute. I'm glad that the force has worked to include him and his skills.

Certainly it would always be easier not to accommodate deaf/HOH/any other disability. Everyone in every workplace everywhere can probably think of reasons why it would be easier not to. When people adopt that attitude though, they waste skills, and the cause an entire group of people to just sit around and be isolated from society and not experience the worth that comes from work. With a little bit of effort society can be very inclusive.

Inclusiveness pays off, because hearing impairment does not equal lack of talent. If you can find a way to work around the impairment, you get the talent for your business or organization. The current technology in hearing aids and implants and such is making inclusiveness easier and easier all the time. It is the attitudes that take the most to adjust. If you are unable to imagine how a deaf/HOH person might be able to do something, ask them. They might be able to imagine it quite well.
posted by newg at 8:45 AM on July 14, 2012 [3 favorites]

This is excellent. One of my coworkers is deaf, and a group of us have taken up ASL classes so we can communicate more easily without an interpreter present. It's been a great experience.
posted by spitefulcrow at 10:13 AM on July 14, 2012

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