Be prepared for the uneducated public
There are fears and misconceptions about job seekers who are deaf or hard of hearing among employers. If an employer has reservations about your hearing status, focus on your abilities and skills to do the job that you are applying for. Present your case as to why you are the best candidate for the job and offer ideas on how communication access can be best accommodated without any undue hardship. Be aware of facts about hearing loss and the workplace. Also discuss the importance of diversity in the workplace. There are many tips and ideas at chs.ca.
Timing is important for applying summer jobs
Youth who are deaf or hard of hearing need to start applying for summer job early in the year (i.e. January to March). Start you job searching after school or over the week-end. Let employers, your friends and family members know that you are looking for summer work or even it means part-time work year round.
Know your accommodation needs and when they are necessary
Some youth who are deaf or hard of hearing may need interpreting services or one-to-one assistive listening device to ensure communication access during the interview. Make sure you get a registered or trained interpreter or a qualified real-time translation service (check OIS or CART Services at chs.ca) so the quality of communication in excellent during the interviews. Explain to the employer that you will not use these services every day in the workplace and they are used only critical information is exchanged (i.e. interviews, orientation, etc.). Many youth who are hard of hearing prefer not to disclose their hearing status at the interviews which is understandable. There is no right or wrong but make sure you have a plan in place when your hearing status is questioned in the workplace.
Expect attitudinal barriers and focus awareness on your abilities
Most often, difficult barriers to overcome are attitudes toward persons who are deaf or hard of hearing. They are usually from ignorance, fear, misunderstanding, fitting the hearing culture, etc. The most effective way in dealing with these attitudes is focusing on an individual's abilities. Show that you have the ability to do the job you applied for. Raise awareness about hearing loss. If attitudinal barriers continue to persist, tell the employer that you are disappointed and hope he or she will re-consider the next time.
Expect health and safety concerns and offer solutions
Persons who are deaf or hard of hearing tend to respond differently to emergencies, working around machinery, communicating with coworkers, and receiving training. This can either through visual or assistive listening devices, communicating with other workers through one-to-one basis or through i-pods or intranet, visual alarms including pagers, etc. These challenges may not be part of employer's strategies in ensuring safety for all workers. Best practices include:
Raise awareness on solutions to the safety and health for workers who are deaf or hard of hearing
Share with employers various accommodation options as they relate to emergency evacuation, training, responding to safety hazards and communication
Encourage employers to develop and establish procedures for workers who are deaf or hard of hearing that incorporate safety and health accommodations
Encourage employers to involve worker who is deaf or hard of hearing on health and safety accommodations
Involve a trained Employment Consultant at The Canadian Hearing Society (CHS) for resources and support. CHS can also do a workplace accommodation assessment. Check Accessibility Services @ CHS for even more information, or contact us at email@example.com