The Limping Chicken, a blog that focuses on deafness and hearing loss, posted an article titled “Why I No Longer Mention Being Deaf in Job Interviews.” The writer, who has progressive hearing loss such as myself, related her experiences with discrimination when she disclosed her hearing loss during certain job interviews. Her decision, as the blog post title states, was to no longer tell prospective employers about her hearing loss.
Have you been in this writer’s shoes before?
This is a very timely post, considering that hearing loss is on the rise among the working population, mostly due to noise exposure. I can understand various perspectives about whether or not to disclose hearing loss in an interview. Some potential employers are quite knowledgeable about the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and are open to hiring individuals with hearing loss.
With a recent job position, I disclosed my hearing loss during the application process and interview. I explained that I read lips and have some functioning hearing ability. The disclosure did not affect my ability to land this job. Then, I informed my supervisor about my communication needs and hearing-assistive accommodations, such as Computer-Aided Realtime Translation (CART) and frequency-modulated (FM) systems. The work experience was quite positive, as co-workers were accommodating of my needs.
Sadly, I have experienced the reverse.
I had applied for a college practicum to work with an early childhood agency. As part of my graduate studies program, I was required to complete 20 hours a week of practicum work with an agency that serves young children. In my introductory letter for the practicum, I disclosed my hearing loss. After I had been accepted for the practicum position, I sent a followup email explaining accommodations that I would need to be successful with the position: an FM system (which I would provide), a guarantee that all training videos would either be captioned or I would be provided with a transcript, and, if necessary, CART. The agency responded in a less-than-positive way. Specifically, an agency supervisor contacted my college and expressed concerns about working with me. The college ended up finding another practicum for me, and I plan to begin that position soon.
I have come to the conclusion that it is better to be open than to hide.
There are many of us in the workplace who live with hearing loss. And, when push comes to shove, we have the ADA law on our side.
Be open about your hearing loss in the application process and interview.
Respectfully educate those around you about hearing loss and the various reasonable accommodations available.
Do not be discouraged by any of the less-than-positive reactions.
Remember: You are not alone.
Please share your experiences in the comments below.