With all the technology we now have at our fingertips, you would think it’s a great time to be deaf. But sadly, there are still many issues deaf people face.
Take me for example; I work in a large, global environmental consultancy, working on a high profile project. I enjoy it, it’s challenging and the people here are lovely. However, no matter how much there are laws against discrimination or how much education there is about deafness, prejudices still exist.
This week has been extremely frustrating for me, as I have had several occasions where I have felt that my deafness has hampered me in some way.
The first situation was that a client rang the company, wanting to speak to me. Reception weren’t able to put him through as I am not listed in the phone directory. They passed on the message to me, but I then had to email him and explain that I couldn’t use the phone. This then lead to an email reply saying that in the meantime he had sorted it out with someone else. I realise there are always occasions that people aren’t available to take calls and so something is urgent enough to deal somehow without them. However, I was available and I was happy to help. I felt demoralised and useless.
The second situation: due to the nature of our project, there are many teleconference calls that are held as we have colleagues and clients all spread out. Normally, I don’t attend unless there are a number of colleagues dialling in from the same office as I am. However, I wanted to get clarity on some project work and processes, but was unable to join the call that would have done this. I felt disadvantaged and that I wasn’t able to be part of the process and thus on the back foot as such. I know colleagues do fill me in and let me know, but it is a redundant process as it is not always easy to feedback or share opinions/thoughts etc.
Third situation, I work with some colleagues who are not the most efficient at responding to emails or taking advantage of our internal communicator tool. As I need to interact with them on a daily basis, it can be difficult chasing people up and responding to things especially when we have pressing deadlines and so having to ask colleagues to chase someone else up on my behalf takes away some independence.
Normally, I would always say that it is never an issue being deaf in the workplace ….but the reality is that there are days that it is an issue, and it does frustrate you, and there’s not much you can do about it.
This week is my frustrating week and like always, I will rise above it and move on.
Tara Sethi is an Environmental Consultant working in the City of London, living in the Surrey countryside. She loves travelling, socialising and is passionate about charity work, having helped deaf charities for over 15 years. She is a profoundly deaf CI user.