What am I talking about? I am deaf, but this question always comes to mind when I write an application in search of a job these days. Since last year I have been out of work because I got laid off due to cut in the budget. Should I write that I am deaf or not?
It is a question that has been debated quite a few times with the job center and depending on when you ask I get both yes and no. But these days, they think I should not write that I am deaf, as it is a lot harder these days to get a job than it was say 4-5 years ago. You might ask what the reason is for not writing about being deaf. Usually, it is just a short line to mention it and I try not to make too much of it, but should I really have to debate whether or not to inform that I am deaf? I’d say no, because I would think it is the experience at work that counts more than being deaf. Ok, if I am applying to be a waitress at a fair where there is a lot of loud noise (actually did work one summer as a waitress at this fair with lots of loud noise, went ok) or office assistant at local city hall information area with an open office desk, together with 10-20 other co-workers and waiting room in the same area with no quiet moment (wait I have done that too and it just as fine). But you get my drift, there are jobs deaf/hard of hearing can’t do (maybe I shouldn’t type that but bear with me just for a moment) and then you find what you can do better at and fight for it. But how many times do you have to prove over, over, and over again that you are just as good as a “normal” hearing person is, if not even better at times.
It both saddens as well as angers me. Until about a month or so ago, I would type in my application that I was hard of hearing. But since then I haven’t, mostly because I feel it should be for my experience that a company/local city hall should employ me. Not because I can’t hear, not because some places like in the cantina it can be hard to have conversations with the co-workers, not because there can be a few misunderstandings. If a company looks at my hearing loss negatively, then they are not worth wasting my time or life at. When I am working I am spending most of my time and life there and I feel and know I have the right to say: respect me not for my hard of hearing, but for what I can do and do at work. I was sad and still am at time about getting laid off last year. Not only had I found a great job I came to like but also great co-workers who not only respected me as hard of hearing but understood when I asked them to repeat what they had said, it was only because either the talk had gone too fast or I just hadn’t been able to hear what they said. They would give me a smile, look at me, and repeat it again. It made me feel confident and most importantly trusting. Trusting I could speak up if I hadn’t heard what the co-worker said without being at risk of losing the job, for not being able to hear it.
Now while applying for jobs, I wonder at times how it can be like this when most of us say there should be room for us all and most of us do want to work out there. Is there a need to "hide" being deaf... or not….??
The Quiet Photographer