At the 2012 HLAA Rhode Island convention, Malik B. El-Amin presented a workshop called Hard of Hearing and Exceptional – Landing the Job and Achieving Career Success. In today’s world it’s tough finding a job and having a hearing loss on top of it doesn’t makes us feel any more secure in the process. The American Disability Act (ADA) backs us up but doesn’t guarantee we will have a job. Malik went over the ADA, what it covers and what it doesn’t. Here’s his overview:
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) –Title 1
•Covers private, state & local govt., employment agencies, and unions with more than 15 employees
•Covers job application procedures, hiring, firing, advancement, compensation, and training
•Must have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, have a record of such an impairment, or be regarded as having such an impairment
•Must meet legitimate skill, experience, education, or other requirements of an employment position that you hold or seek, and be able to perform the essential functions of the position with or without reasonable accommodation
•Reasonable accommodation is any modification or adjustment to a job or the work environment that will enable a qualified applicant or employee with a disability to participate in the application process or to perform essential job functions. No “undue hardship”
•Employer cannot make any pre-employment inquiry about a disability or the nature or severity of a disability
•An employer is not required to reallocate essential functions of a job as a reasonable accommodation
Some of what he shared is common sense; look professional, arrive early and leave behind or turn off phones and gadgets. Keep your current job or do some volunteer work to fill time. Go to industry related events and check out the local chamber of commerce.
For those of us with hearing loss, he had a few more tips like controlling your hearing loss. Rehearse talking about your hearing loss before hand, be comfortable with it. Don’t fake it or bluff your way through. Use your typical accommodations. Provide accommodations if you can, ask for the rest. Don’t be afraid to ask for adjustments in the interview, like lighting (if I can see you better, I hear better). This shows you in charge of your hearing loss.
We don’t have to disclose our hearing loss on applications or at interviews but it might be better to be upfront so no one is surprised. (Personally, I don’t list my hearing loss on applications and I don’t talk about it on the phone. I wait until I’m in front of the person so I’m not prejudged.) There are some positive aspects to hearing loss he reminded us.
We are good about accepting others as they are.
We listen because we have to.
Adversity is no stranger to us.
Malik is a member of the HLAA Los Angeles chapter. His convention presentation can be found here: (cut and paste might work better than clicking)
Here are some helpful links to other websites on hearing loss and job interviews:
Employment Toolkit for the Hard of Hearing by HLAA http://hearingloss.org/content/workplace
Managing at Work http://www.hearinglink.org/managingatwork
CapTel has suggestions: http://www.captel.com/news/hearing-loss/how-to-handle-a-job-interview-with-hearing-loss/
Another bloggers personal perspective: http://livingwithhearingchallenges.com/2012/11/27/job-interview-with-hearing-loss/