That’s the number of people with disabilities working in the US, compared to 68.2 percent without disabilities, according to United States Department of Labor’s September 2015 Disability Employment Statistics.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) has laws that make discrimination on the basis of disability illegal, but my high school experience showed me the slippery ways people in power can bypass these laws.
In my first post-graduate job, a makeup salesperson at a major US department store, I received diversity training, which included many topics: language inclusivity; recognizing racial bias; respect of different religions. But what struck me was the topic of disability.
When I first entered the workforce, my parents encouraged me to hide my disability because I passed for able-bodied better than most people in my position. Any discrimination, they believed, would be brought by my openness, and they suspected it would be better for me to be quiet. Typically, I would have rejected this advice, telling my parents I would not be shackled by chains of ableism created by ignorant people, however, I was nervous about my post-collegiate future and felt adrift in the “real world” after almost 20 years of academia. I hated living at home and I wanted to earn money, but I was not sure if moving out and making a living would be possible if I was open about my hearing loss. Wanting to err on the side of caution, I nervously chose to go into hiding on my first day of work.
Hearing aids can be scary to someone who doesn’t know how they work. So with Halloween just around the corner, we think it’s the perfect opportunity to show kids and their friends that hearing aids are cool!
Theater goers can attest, when one leaves a musical they often walk away with the show tunes stuck in their heads. But a new Broadway revival is leaving the opposite impression, with most of the focus solely on the actors; half of whom are deaf.
Deaf West Theater’s production of Spring Awakening, which opened in New York in September, stars eight deaf actors, eight hearing actors and seven onstage musicians, including Academy Award and Golden Globe winner Marelee Matlin.
I grew up the child of someone with hearing loss. I knew it in a peripheral way — my father wore hearing aids, but they were never seen — always hidden by sideburns grown long for that purpose. He never discussed his hearing loss and went out of his way to hide it. I remember social gatherings where he would disappear only to be found sitting at a table in the corner alone. I always wondered why, but now I know, because I have hearing loss too.
As a child, my hearing was fine, but when I first had trouble hearing in my mid-twenties at business school, I hid it, following my father’s example. I even refused to wear my first pair of hearing aids, afraid someone might see them. I felt embarrassed. I am not sure why. Was it a learned response from watching my father, or was it something larger — a stigma associated with hearing loss that I wanted to avoid? In any event, my mother’s reaction was not encouraging. “Do you really need to wear them?” she asked me.
Eventually, the answer became yes, I really did need to wear them, but I still avoided them as much as possible. I would sneak my hearing aids in on my way to work, wear them all day hidden behind my long hair, and whip them out as soon as possible at the end of the workday. I hated my hearing aids and only wore them when I absolutely needed to, and never socially or with my family. Continue reading “Coming Out of My Hearing Loss Closet”
The statistics are well-known. More than 1.1 billion people around the world are affected by hearing loss, but only one in five people who would benefit from a hearing aid actually uses one. Ask anyone and they will probably either know someone with hearing loss, or have someone they know who could probably benefit from a hearing aid. But why is it that while people often recognize symptoms of hearing loss they rarely do anything about it? Continue reading ““Right Hear, Right Now”: Hearing Loss Awareness as Works of Art”
Christmas is a time for remembering old friends, but sometimes it can also bring back some sad or unpleasant memories. Seeing a former friend’s name in my address book reminded me of something that happened a few years ago…
After my sudden deafness in my ‘good ear’ in 2011, I could no longer use our telephone or my mobile for calls. Some friends were accommodating, converting our communication to text, email or social media but, sadly, others weren’t so accommodating.