Hameeda Raj: How having a deaf son influenced my MBA – on deaf people in employment

Posted on September 19, 2013

This is the title of my MBA Dissertation. How and why have I chosen this?

We have to go back seven years, to when we discovered our two year old son was deaf.

We naively thought his lack of hearing was due to ‘glue ear’ and that it would be miraculously solved by grommets. When the consultant walked into the room whilst my son was in recovery, I was expecting to hear ‘all is well, his hearing is now fine’. How wrong were we?

He dropped the bombshell that Amaan was in fact ‘severely to profoundly deaf’. How could we have a deaf child when we had no history of deafness going back several generations, with all of my nieces and nephews being hearing children? Amaan’s elder sister was hearing too.

I cried for days, blamed myself, blamed my husband, blamed myself all over again. Then began our journey of venturing into the deaf world. The fights, the frustrations, the battles, the support (and/or lack of).

I decided early on that if I was to give my son the best in the world that I would have to be the one to support him to the best of my ability.

I learned BSL to Level 2 (thanks to Jill Hipson, the lady who fought the banks – my teacher and really good friend). We changed our work, our hours – anything to make life a bit easier. Slowly Amaan began growing up as an intuitive, clever, handsome and EXTREMELY vocal little boy. He is now nine, uses sign and speech and is a pain in the articles I once in a blue moon get a chance to write (thanks Limping Chicken!).

As an Office Manager in the Aviation Industry, working for my brother has allowed me the flexibility to care for Amaan and disappear for umpteen appointments and school visits. He is now due to get Cochlear Implants so we have more hospital visits to look forward to (yay…not!)

In between all the fun and mayhem – and another little girl added to the family – I decided I wanted to do an MBA to finish off all the various study routes I’ve taken. Now at the last hurdle I had to pick a topic for my dissertation – the bane of many student’s lives.

Our uni FB pages are inundated with people requesting help and support in picking a subject. I knew whatever I did, I had to choose something that would a) sustain my interest for the duration of the dissertation and b) be a bit meaningful.

After much ado about nothing, it hit me. I actually had a dream in the early stages of my MBA (I am now in the fourth year) about doing something on how deaf-friendly firms are – on a more practical level.

I even emailed Jill for her opinions and thought about inviting her to work to see how she’d get on. I’ve come full circle, because my subject of research is now very similar.

I am looking at the challenges and barriers deaf people face when looking for work, and also when in employment.

The level of ignorance people show when it comes to deaf people and dealing with them is truly shocking – we see it day in day out. The gaps in Amaan’s knowledge are just some of the issues and challenges he faces as a deaf child. When he is older and looking for work he will face the issues and problems my research is trying to highlight.

So, if you’re a deaf person either looking for work or in work and fancy a nose at my survey, please have a look and fill it in. Your support and answers will help me to get a clearer understanding of the problems out there.

Ultimately if I can change the attitude of one employer into becoming a bit more deaf-aware, then I will feel my dissertation has been a bit meaningful.

Here is the survey link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/5TVRL8F

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