One time during job interviews, I had two very different experiences; one within the hearing world and the other in the deaf world.
In the hearing world, when applying for jobs, I almost had to change who I am, hide my deafness, prove I was more capable than the other hearing candidates, as if any slither of my deafness comes up, employers could feel it’s a hindrance to the role. People say discrimination doesn’t happen within the workplace, but it does, it’s very minimal, covered up by excuses, finding any reason as to why the abled candidates are stronger, just because they can hear.
In the deaf world, I felt free. I shouted my deafness from the rooftops! There was no hiding who I was, I used it to my strengths, how it helps me have a better understanding of what others are going through, how it can benefit organisations, and much more.
As sad as it is, it shouldn’t be like that. Deaf people shouldn’t be excluded from the same opportunities as their hearing peers, they should be given a chance. Why should we hide who we are? It shouldn’t impact on the way we live and the lifestyle choices we make.
It got me thinking about society’s view on deafness in general…
There’s still negative stigma around deafness and disability today. In a society where gender and race has become talked about and recognised as equal, why is disability is yet to be addressed?
Is it because it’s a taboo subject? Because people don’t know how to react?
People can become deaf or disabled overnight. As scary as the thought can be, rather than ignoring the issue, why can’t we as a society address it, so it’s not such a debilitating thought? If people did become disabled, it can be a smooth transition welcomed by an accessible and understanding society, treating us all as one and the same?
Making the invisible visible
Deafness is one of the most common disabilities, unlike physical disabilities, where it can be seen visually, deafness is not so easy to spot. It’s an invisible one.
That’s why we hear of situations where people assume deaf people are rude, as they didn’t hear someone speaking to them, where deaf people gain a bad reputation for being serial complainers, just because services aren’t made accessible for them?
I think as a society, it’s time to start listening to deaf and disabled people.
We need to work together to make services accessible for people with disabilities. Rather than ignoring complaints and refusing to cooperate with us, why not make both of our lives easier by joining together to find solutions? Think of all the time and effort that could be saved by making simple changes!
We need to raise more awareness of deafness and disabilities, just as we have been with gender and race equality. We need to start the discussion, make change happen and end the negative stigma.
Let deaf people be proud, let them flaunt their deafness, accept them for who they are… Why should we have to keep hiding in the shadows?