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.
Continue reading “19 Percent”
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”
We’ve all talked on this blog about how different the perception is between viewing aids (better known as glasses) and hearing aids (better known as “my ears” by people wearing them, and as “prosthetics” by people seeing them). A few months ago we were on holiday at the beach — don’t let me get me started on Corsica, one of the finest places in the world. We spent two weeks there; every day we’d go to the beach and dive among schools of fish.
Without my hearing aids, discussions on the beach were some approximate gibberish mixed with outcries from happy children playing around, the buzz from some distant sea scooters, the splashes, the regular pounding of waves. In fact I heard less than half the conversations. But you know how beach conversations go: most of the time it’s more chit-chat than life-changing decisions, so I didn’t really mind and decided to let go. I love reading books on the beach anyway.
Continue reading “But Your Hearing is Perfect”
People wait a long time to get fitted with hearing aids. I’m a good example of this, having hearing loss since birth (we guess) but waiting until my 38th year to do so, after figuring out “something was up” with my hearing when I was 13 or so.
Continue reading “Why Do We Underestimate Hearing Loss?”