At a recent Parent Connection meeting over the weekend, a supervisor of deaf education mentioned that deaf and hard of hearing people often have difficulties finding employment and most are underemployed.
Many deaf and hard of hearing persons, the supervisor explained, often do not have opportunities to move up to higher positions despite being qualified to do so.
On the Hands & Voices website, the statistics are rather dismal but many of the studies are also quite old: A Snapshot of Statistics.
From the site:
Approximately 40% of deaf adults are unemployed and 90% are underemployed. (Siegel, 2000).
Underemployed simply means that someone has degrees, qualifications or skills that are not being utilized in their current employment.
The truth is a somewhat muddled picture. Today, with so much technology available, there are many more opportunities for deaf and hard of hearing persons to take on a variety of jobs that were considered unthinkable thirty years ago. We have doctors, lawyers, vets, reporters, realtors, financial advisors-- the list goes on. Yet, deaf and hard of hearing persons often have a difficult time of even getting their foot in the door and obtaining an interview. The one thing that often presents a barrier is the attitude of the person doing the hiring. One has to wonder how many qualified, talented deaf and hard of hearing persons are overlooked for jobs because of the perception that their "hearing deficiencies" will present a problem.
Jo Waldron sums it up: "The worst barrier in the world is attitude." Marlee Matlin, in a Business Week article also has something to say about attitude: All it takes to realize that a deaf person can rise to any task is a little awareness and interaction. All it takes is a little awareness. I like to say that the greatest handicap of deafness does not lie in the ear, it lies in the mind.
Check out Trudy Suggs' article: Will Work For Food.