Staci Jones: Why it’s hard, being a Deafie

Posted on November 8, 2013

1272602_568398296542947_1003491115_oAs a hard of hearing person living  in the 21st century, I consider myself rather lucky in terms of care and lifestyle; I am extremely grateful I don’t have to wear ear trumpets, for example.

However, there is still prejudice today that affects deaf and hard of hearing people.

In school, more often than not,  most of us were bullied for being different. We had radio aids that drew attention to us, we wore hearing aids and/or signed, and we were also told to sit at the front, which meant the ‘normal’ kiddies saw us as freaks from Mars.

On top of this we have to face the attitudes of the general public. I for one like to feel normal and take my hearing aids out to listen to music via my iPod – which means that someone has to tap me on the shoulder should they need my attention. On one occasion, a man accused me of being “an immigrant” simply because I was looking at him and not hearing what he was saying.

Note to the general public: please be aware that some people who are deaf do not always wear hearing aids due to the severity of their hearing loss. Also, hearing aids do not fully restore hearing, they just amplify sounds – which means that we still have limited hearing.

Now for employment. I do have a job, but it’s a long way from university. I have been looking for a job for the past three years in Preston and have only ever been offered TWO interviews, after sending out 500 job applications.

At a recent job interview, I mentioned that I would need a headset to allow me to hear on the phone. I was then asked if I could do a test day, but, after telling them a date when I could do it, and then emailing them other available times and dates, I got an email a week later saying that I wasn’t successful in my application. I honestly thought I had a chance.

To all employers who are reading this, here’s what I’d like you to understand.

I am so sorry that some deaf people require equipment in order for us to hear in the workplace, but this does not affect our ability to be an asset to your workforce. I am quite capable of office work, customer service, warehousing and returns and working on a shop floor.

In fact I am not sorry, because we deaf and hard of hearing people did not choose to become deaf, just as people who are blind did not choose to be blind, and people in wheelchairs did not choose to be in a wheelchair.

My hearing loss is a result of having Meningococcal Septicaemia at 9 months old. I could have lost a limb, a digit, my sight or even died, instead I lost my most of my hearing.

So I’m sorry if my hearing loss is a problem for your company in terms of having to provide me with equipment, but I’m afraid by not employing a person with a disability, for that reason alone, is discrimination.

Back in the 1940s, after World War II, the government invented a back to work scheme for those who had become disabled during the war, and they gave each company a quota as to how many disabled people they had to employ. This scheme worked very well.

Now, the government complain about people receiving benefits, but I guarantee that most of the deaf or disabled people who claim benefits are finding it hard to get a job due to employers not wanting to employ people who are not ‘normal’ and seeing us as a potential drain on the company.

On another note, people with disabilities are unheard of in films, books, music and soaps and dramas on the telly (with the exception of a few). Presumably, this is because viewers don’t want to see a disabled person as it may put them off their evening brew and crumpets.

In short, I feel that society needs to be more aware of people who are deaf. There needs to be more recognition and more help.

Staci Jones is a 21 year old UCLAN student study history who is originally from Manchester.

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