Deaf people are very hard workers and enjoy keeping busy rather than staying at home on disability benefits. But while factories post help wanted notices and deaf people apply for the jobs, none are hired. A deaf person with outstanding machine operation experience is likely to be rejected. Many deaf workers are given heavier workloads than hearing co-workers. They are taken advantage of. And a small mistake for which a hearing co-worker gets a warning, gets a deaf person fired without a single warning. Workplaces do not train a deaf person for the kind of work they deserve, but give them work that does not pay enough.
Some deaf people graduate without proper educations and wish that the school could have done better. It becomes a struggle when they are unable to find a translator and we must use paper and pen to communicate.
We could achieve many major careers with degrees if there were technologic access for deaf people. For example, for someone holding a medical assistant diploma, a job in a medical office would involve many phone calls. But there is no accesses for us to be able to fulfill the position even though there is technology to support our communication needs. Some offices refuse to hire even deaf person with degrees.
There is a program to teach infants – but not deaf infants – to read. Perhaps the company chooses to keep the deaf infants in the dark. People are taught that deaf people cannot achieve, cannot work, will bend over backward for you, so it is OK to walk over them and keep them down. Some people think it is OK to abuse deaf people’s rights, and heap blame and suffering upon them without conscience.
Many hearing parents think it is OK to fix the deafness with cochlear implants for deaf infants and children without thinking twice about consequences. Deaf parents with a healthy baby with good hearing might be upset if the baby were not deaf like them. To consider surgical intervention would upset hearing people. These are things we face every day and want people to understand.
Police officers are not educated about the rights of deaf persons. They take a hearing person’s side even if the deaf person called for the help they deserve and did not get it from the police officers, who lose their patience while they trying to communicate with gestures and end up doing harm to deaf people.
In a small town a deaf person was driving a used vehicle with a valid temporary plate and was pulled over by the police. The officer spoke nonstop while she used the gesture “I am deaf and I don’t speak,” pointing to her ears and shaking her head “no.” The officer grew impatient and issued seven citations.
Regarding health-care reform for low-incomes: no deaf person over 21 would be eligible for a new hearing aid or ear molds. (But I would see a vocational rehabilitation caseworker to request the help paying for the hearing aids.)
The American with Disabilities Act (ADA) allows doctors to refuse a request for an interpreter at the appointments with the deaf patients. That presents a huge problem because some deaf people have a problem reading and writing English. They can communicate through American Sign Language, not through paper and pen. Imagine yourself as a deaf person who cannot write and read English well and in this situation. And other places have the same rights to refuse the request for interpreters. That is unfair. We want to see it to be fixed.
Some states are way behind with the ADA, and many small towns across America have no knowledge of it. There are many deaf people living in small towns.
We want people in America to have a clear picture of the deaf culture so things will better for us. Can you shed some light on major issues that we face every day? It would bring a huge relief to deaf people.
HEATHER POHLIT, Adairsville