Amber Kiker Kiker 1
August 12, 2015
Deaf Employment in the Professional Sector
Profound hearing loss affects millions of people in the United States today. According to the Gualledette Research Institute there are currently over a million people between the ages of 6 and 65 who are Deaf (Harrington 1). While several state and federally funded programs have been implemented to support early and post-secondary education for the Deaf, evidence points to a significant lack of job placement assistance for Deaf young adults transitioning from college to independent living. Deaf graduates often return home to live with family due to an inability to ...view middle of the document...
If they do reach the professional sector they are most commonly limited to employment in a Deaf related field, such as Deaf education administration. She states that opportunities are beginning to open up in technology and mathematics, but legal, medical and dental have little representation (1).
Communication plays a major role in the struggle for Deaf employment. The strained style of communication intrinsically necessary between the hearing and the Deaf is the primary obstacle in a company’s decision to employ a Deaf person. The belief that any person cannot perform the function of their job due to their style of communication is a form of discrimination known in the Deaf community as Audism. Tom Humphries first coined this term while writing his doctoral dissertation entitled “Communicating Across Cultures (Deaf-Hearing) and Language Learning”. He states:
Audism is the notion that one is superior based on one's ability to hear or to behave in the manner of one who hears, or that life without hearing is futile and miserable, or an attitude based on pathological thinking which results in a negative stigma toward anyone who does not hear. (12)
In order to understand cultural misconceptions leading to employment discrimination, we must first explore the origins of culture itself in order to examine the elements which create a culture. Observations must be taken of the typical variables and core characteristics reflective of
individuals who are part of a group. According to psychologist J.S. Phinney, there are three dimensions of ethnicity to be investigated within a given community. The first dimension is comprised of the cultural values, attitudes, and behaviors synonymous within a group. The second is a physical identification as well as subjective sense of membership within the group. The third are experiences associated with the social dimensions of a minority status within a group, such as discrimination and feelings of powerlessness (918-927). Of course, Phinney was discussing ethnic cultures in America; however, it is appropriate to apply this deconstruction of culture to a distinctive group such as the Deaf.
The Deaf community is unique in that the acquisition of Deaf culture as it is most commonly derived from outside the family structure. Referring back to Sue Ellen Pressman’s doctoral dissertation, the author expresses that the way in which Deaf children view their career options is directly related to whether they are raised in the supportive Deaf Community or surrounded by hearing people. She found that since over 90% of Deaf children are born to hearing parents, this indicates much of a Deaf child’s influences initially come from a hearing perspective. Hearing-abled parents delegate advice about a career path that is limited to a hearing point of view, often restricting the Deaf child’s options to the service industry, manufacturing and Deaf education (21). It should be noted that even in Deaf education...