Jun 20 2018

The Interview

Published by under Hearing Loss

Any job search can be tricky.  Hours spent online combing through job boards, typing and editing resumes, the list goes on.  The process can be even more difficult for people who are deaf and hard of hearing.  As I progress with my own personal job search, I can’t help but worry that the interviewer might take my hearing loss into account when deciding whether or not to hire me.

A recent experience I had brought all these thoughts back to the forefront of my mind.

About a week ago, I had a second interview with a firm downtown.  I met with the human resources recruiter and creative manager regarding a temporary graphic designer position.  Even though I am seeking for a full time opportunity, I thought this would be a great role to build my portfolio in the graphic design field.

The interview went very well.  I got the impression the creative manager liked my design portfolio and that they thought the position would match my skills and interests.  I was told I would hear back soon in order to meet with the chief of marketing.  The recruiter said they would get back to me by the end of the week.

By the end of the week, I still hadn’t heard anything.  I realized the company removed the job posting from their website.  That wasn’t a good sign.  I decided to email the human resources assistant, but only received back an automated email saying they decided to pursue other candidates after carefully reviewing my application.

I was very upset to see this email because I had already been selected as a candidate in the interview process.  It sounded very cold after taking my personal time to come in and interview with them.  So, I sent another email to HR assistant and asking for an update.  Hours later, I got a standard email from HR recruiter finally thanking me to come in and they decided to end my journey in the interview process.  That was only after I had to push for an answer.

That being said, I learn many places – including this company – don’t respect their candidates, even after coming in for an interview.  This company removed the job posting before letting me know the update.  After finding someone they like, they treated me like dust and unfortunately that’s how the world is in corporate America.  Perhaps companies have to follow certain rules and policies.  I just think after taking your personal time, we should be treated with more respect on a personal level rather than sending standard emails that all applicants receive.  That’s a loophole we find in many companies recruiting for jobs.

It really makes me question why I wasn’t considered to come in for the third interview?  Why was I ruled out early in the process?  All of my skills and interests was a perfect match for this position.  Could be that my hearing loss and the way I talk that put me behind other “normal” candidates?  Sometimes I wonder if discrimination plays a role, but I can’t prove it because we never know what goes on behind closed doors in the interview process.

I’ve been rejected before after interviews but this experience was very unusual.  The creative manager who interviewed me showed great interest and you have this vibe coming close to a job offer.  She was really impressed that I run a hearing loss website and manage interns.  Instead, the unexpected happened and I was treated like nobody the next day.

I just wanted to share this interview experience on my blog because we need to advocate for ourselves.  Once again, I won’t allow any roadblocks to stop me from succeeding the reach out to the stars, and I hope you won’t, either.  Just remember, you’re not alone in this world.

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May 26 2018

The milestone of 10,000 members

Published by under Hearing Loss

I would like to personally share some exciting news.  We have finally reached the milestone of 10,000 members in our online hearing loss community with DeafandHoH.  I’ve had mild to moderate hearing loss all of my life, and have always felt like an outsider and as if I don’t have many friends. Those feelings were my inspiration for starting a hearing loss community.

Thank you to all of our past student interns who have contributed to make our hearing loss website a great place for the deaf and hard of hearing community.  We have had many students from Ohio University, the University of Dayton, and other colleges over the years.  Without your contribution and involvement, we would not have gotten as far as we are today.

Last summer, I unexpectedly lost my job for no reason and faced another road block in my life.  I will continue to advocate for others who are treated unfairly and are isolated in the outside world.  I will continue to share my stories, frustrations, and achievements.  Lastly, I will continue to reach out to the stars and all my dreams will come true no matter what roadblocks I encounter again.

I am confident our community will expand to become bigger than ever.  The more we have, the stronger we are.  Just remember, you’re not alone in this world.

I appreciate each and everyone in the hearing loss community, the friends who are still my friends today, and especially my parents who always been supportive and always there for me.

I love you all and thank you for reading.

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Nov 02 2017

Nothing Personal is Personal

It was just another normal day at work on Friday, July 28.  I was feeling positive while taking on a graphic design request assigned to me.  I always showed the willingness to contribute in other areas with my broad experience and creative talent whenever I could.  At noon, my manager sent me a chat message asking if I would be around at 1 p.m.  He didn’t give an explanation, so out of curiosity I checked out his calendar—there was a meeting titled “Employee Action” at that time.  I wondered what that meant as I walked over to my manager and asked if everything was okay.  He briefly mentioned there was nothing to worry about, so that was a relief.  I was thinking maybe it was a promotion or something good, since I had always been a hard worker.  But instead, the unexpected happened like an asteroid falling on me out of nowhere.  I was called in to see the HR manager whom I never met before.  The HR manager told me I was being terminated.  I wasn’t given any good reason for this.  I asked, “Am I being fired?”  The only answer I received was, “No, nothing personal.”  I was told this was a marketing department decision and that my skills weren’t needed anymore.  Well, that was a vague response.  Everything was personal to me in this case and I did not see it coming at all.  The digital team was expanding and more of my expertise was beneficial in the days to come as mentioned.  I’ve always gotten positive feedback and recognition on my work.  Nobody was being laid off in the marketing department and I kept asking the reason “why”?  The HR manager and my manager were only interested to take away my ID badge and bring any personal belongings I had.  I could not even return back to my desk.  My manager walked me out of the building and treated me like a complete stranger.  I have never been treated so badly by any company I worked with over the years.  I felt deeply insulted and, even more, cheated like everything was an act.  Just like that, one sunny afternoon, I lost my job that I worked so hard to get 17 months ago.  Later, I learned I was possibly wrongfully terminated because they had hired another person to take over my role a week later.  I had a taste of how Corporate America and management operate, particularly in big companies.  It can happen to anyone and the world isn’t always a friendly place.  It’s filled with politics.  Unfortunately, it happened to me.

Even though this experience has really emotionally impacted me during the past couple of months,  I have been trying to stay positive.  Yes, thinking about beginning the job search process again is difficult.  Yes, I have had dreams while sleeping of going back to work and being treated like an outsider by co-workers as I dealt all of my life growing up because of my hearing loss.  But I’m also reminded of why I started all of this in the first place.  This experience is why I continue to expand my hearing loss website, write a novel reaching out to the world, and share my personal experience in every part of my life.  I will continue to advocate for others who are treated unfairly and isolated in the outside world.  Someday I will reach the stars and all my dreams will come true, no matter what roadblocks I encounter.  Sharing my stories, frustrations, and achievements is the best cure to move forward.  That’s what I have been doing all along here in my blog.

Thank you all for reading and your support.  New beginnings and good things are to come.

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Jul 09 2017

“Total Communication” philosophy

Published by under Hearing Loss

Thank you Kris Raasch Polly and Barb Nagy for your recommendation letter on behalf of my nomination for the 2017 Oticon Focus on People Awards.


 

At age 3 Senthil joined the full-time preschool program for deaf and hard of hearing children
in Waukesha, Wisconsin. The preschool program followed the “Total Communication”
philosophy which was very popular at that time. This philosophy allowed for oral speech,
auditory skill development, speech reading and sign language techniques to coexist within the
same classroom, based on the needs of the child. This class of 10 children included those who
were hard of hearing, profoundly deaf and 3 children with apraxia who were learning sign
language to help them in communicating their ideas. This “Total Communication” philosophy
probably contributed to Senthil’s acceptance of people with different communication styles and
needs.

senthil

Even at a young age, the teacher noted that Senthil displayed unusual compassion, interest in what other children had to say, and a desire to include everyone. Always a polite and well mannered
child, an unkind word from Senthil was never heard in the years she worked with him. He also developed an appreciation for the cultural differences among people. At home his family continued some traditions and customs from India, while at school he learned about American customs and values.

By third grade, Senthil was mainstreamed into a regular education classroom. He would continue to be educated with his hearing peers through his middle school and high school years. A resource room teacher and then an itinerant teacher of the deaf and hard of hearing would consult with regular education staff to see that modifications such as appropriate seating and the use of an FM system to help him to hear the teacher’s voice and block out competing background noise were in place to help facilitate his success.

Senthil graduated and went to college. He became a graphic designer working with computers. As an adult he went on to develop a website for deaf and hard of hearing people, featuring a weekly chat night available internationally to share experiences and information. Given Senthil’s character, it is no surprise that he continues to find ways to help others and it has been our privilege and pleasure to have taught Senthil and be part of the process of referring him for this award.

Kris Raasch Polly and Barb Nagy, Teachers of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, School District of
Waukesha, retired

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Mar 18 2017

#hearmeout

Published by under Hearing Loss

written by Molly Kauffman, social media coordinator

Jen Mikol, a current doctorate of audiology student at Ohio University, is finishing up her 4th year internship at Hackensack University Medical Center/Hackensack Audiology and Hearing Aid Associates. She completed her undergraduate work at SUNY Plattsburgh as a Communication Sciences and Disorders major. I reached out to her and several other students in the program to see what it was like to live a day in the audiologist student life. Below are several stories that Jen and some of her colleagues thought would be meaningful for the deaf and hard of hearing community.

  • I had a patient come in, a 3 year old, very smart little girl. During the testing we ran an automatic test (optoacoustic emissions). I asked her if she could hear the “birdies” and she looked up at me and said no- I instantly had a bad feeling about it. We wound up diagnosing her with a severe to profound hearing loss in one ear. She now wears a soft band BAHA and LOVES IT! She is doing really well in school (top of her class, in her words).
  • We had a kiddo come in with hardly any language at 2.5 years. He was diagnosed with a moderately severe SNHL in both of his ears. He was very interactive but just did not say words. He was fit with hearing aids and began speech and language services and he is now a little chatterbox. He is doing really well in school and knows his audiologist as the woman who helps him hear and plays fun games with him.
  • I had a kid come in who was starting to go through the process of potentially having a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder. He was 4 and very introverted, he did not speak much, he did not connect with people. He had failed hearing screenings but was put off as not being able to engage well. He wound up having a significant (believe it was moderately sever to profound) hearing loss in both ear. We fit him with hearing aids and began getting him proper therapy, primarily speech services. He is not interacting much more with people and saying much more. He is still in intensive therapy however things like this are why our job is so rewarding. We get to help people and work with other wonderful professionals and the families of these kids.
  • Plain and simple, I have a little girl who cries every time she has to take her hearing aids out, for testing, a bath, at night, going in the pool, whatever it may be and it breaks my heart and makes me so happy at the same time that she loves getting sound that much!

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Feb 28 2017

You are invited to participate in this year’s Scavenger Hunt!

Published by under Hearing Loss

Adventure is waiting!  Let the fun begin!  It is time for DeafandHoH’s Scavenger Hunt!  Mark your calendars because our next Scavenger Hunt will begin on March 1st.  Below you will find the guidelines to follow in order to participate in this thrilling hunt.  The participant that finds the correct answers for all eight clues gets entered into a drawing.  This drawing then qualifies you for a special prize: The HA HA Communicator Personal Amplifier, which is a subtle hearing assistive device that can help you hear and communicate better.

Here’s how you do it:

  1. Our first clue can be found on our Facebook page: www.facebook.com/DeafandHoH.
  2. Find the answer on our website: www.DeafandHoH.com.
  3. Email your answer to scavengerhunt@deafandhoh.com.
  4. Watch for our email and FB post about the next clue.  We’ll post two new clues every week!
  5. Look for the next clue on the webpage where you found the last answer.
  6. Keep searching and answering until you find the final clue!

A great prize waits make sure to keep a lookout for those clues!  Happy scavenging!

 

scavenger_hunt

 

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Feb 20 2017

Tuesday night chat with Erin Fausel

Published by under Open Chat Night

Erin Erin Fausel, one of our staff writers, has launched a new opportunity to participate in Open Chat Nights!  Every Tuesday from 7-9pm EST join Erin to discuss hot topics, teen experiences, and problems and promises we experience in the hearing loss community.  This is your chance to get connected and have awesome conversations on a weekly basis!  On February 21st we will be discussing TV consumption and how far closed captioning has, or hasn’t, come. You decide!

Some questions to keep in mind for Tuesday’s chat: How does your hearing loss affect how you consume television?  Are there networks or television services that you prefer over others, why or why not?  What positive changes do you wish to see in closed captioning in the future?  We look forward to chatting with you Tuesday at 7!

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Nov 22 2016

Deafness: Is It Really A Disability?

Blog topic written by Hannah Mann, A Croaking Dalek With Laryngitis

In college, I was taught about two approaches to deafness: the medical approach, and the cultural approach. Essentially, the medical approach regards deafness as something to be fixed or cured; the cultural approach regards deafness as something to be embraced and celebrated. Now, I won’t lie: after years of fighting to be “normal,” the Deaf community was a welcome respite that helped me solidify my identity outside of my hearing loss. But that niggling feeling remained: it wasn’t the whole story, especially when it came to job-hunting.

Deafness is pretty unique in that it’s one of the few disabilities that affords near-complete independence. We can drive, we can move around, we can hold down jobs in any physical and intellectual capacity. The only thing we– most of us– struggle to do is communicate in a hearing world.

Unfortunately, that last one is a pretty big deal, especially in networking and securing employment; or in seeking information and education. It’s much like being a perpetual foreigner– without communication, you miss out on language, social cues, and local culture. And not everyone is willing to accommodate, or they don’t know how.

In part, that’s what gave rise to Deaf culture. At various points throughout recent history, a bunch of deaf people got together, worked out their own communication and social norms, and out of it came a distinct language and culture. Over time, a social network for education and employment also developed– it wasn’t and still isn’t uncommon for Deaf people to find jobs in residential schools, ASL courses, and municipal social work.

Outside of those niches, however, our options become… more complicated. A whole lot of  service and sales professions– for example, reception, hospitality, and nursing– rely heavily on verbal communication. At least, as most people understand it. Mind you, several deaf people have found workarounds for succeeding in these types of jobs (many of whom are cuers!)*; often, their biggest challenge lay in convincing their employers that they could do it, albeit in a different way. Quite a few have just gone ahead and started successful businesses, notably in Austin, Texas.

These people, however, are a bit of a rarity.

A paradox: if deafness isn’t a disability in most senses of the word, then why do so many of us end up on SSDI? Or worse, straddling the poverty line?

Any objective measure comes up with two answers:

  1. Deaf people struggle to access secondary information in an auditory environment. We don’t usually overhear things like hearing people do; direct communication is how we learn and retain information. This has major implications for education.
  2. It’s harder to convince employers to hire and retain deaf employees at a living wage. We take longer to find jobs, and we get promoted at slower rates.

The best reconciliation I’ve heard for that paradox so far came from this Australian deaf blogger,** who defined deafness as a social disability. Once I thought of it that way, all those niggling pieces in my mind finally fell into place. See, one of my biggest hurdles in the Great 2014-2015 Job Search was networking at social events and job fairs. Imagine a patchwork conversation like this:

Me: So what kind of job do you do?
Them: Oh, I work at …. [unintelligible]
Me: Say again?
Them: [unintelligible] administrations at [unintelligible] in Dallas.
Me: Oooh. Administration? That sounds interesting.
Them: Yeah, we do a lot of paperwork and [unintelligible].

Not really a whole lot to work with, so the conversation peters out. And that happens everywhere: church, work, parties, social events. Building relationships is the whole point of networking, and how do you fluidly do that with persistent communication breakdowns?

The social model also explains why deaf people so often flourish in a variety of roles within deaf/disability/diversity-related occupations. Those occupations are designed to facilitate deaf-friendly communication, which in turn enables deaf people to build personal connections with coworkers, supervisors, and educators.

We’re not disabled, for the most part, unless our environment makes it that way.

 


 

*This does not include the relatively few professions where safety unequivocally relies on verbal communication, like armed services, police field work, and firefighting. I do know deaf people who work in these professions, but they tend to be in volunteer or support roles, not in active duty.

**Sadly, I lost the link to the Australian deaf blogger, because I suck. If anybody knows who I’m talking about, please feel free to drop me a line so I can credit him. It’s really an excellent article.

Join us on Wednesday at this week’s Open Chat Night!

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Oct 04 2016

Important Update: Open Chat Night

Published by under Open Chat Night

As we begin the season of fall, I’ll continue to host our Open Chat Night on the first and third Wednesdays of each month. However, due to recent low attendance, I plan to make some changes to ensure our chat is as productive and worthwhile as possible. From now on, the chat will take place only if a minimum of 5 people, in addition to Bill Pennell (a chat night regular) and me, RSVP via email or in our Facebook event to join the chat. Our RSVP deadline will be at 4 p.m. (EST) prior to the scheduled chat. If we don’t get a least 5 members committed to join us, the chat will be cancelled for that particular night.

I think this new tactic will help us to avoid slower chat sessions and to make Open Chat Night more effective and productive. We always hope to have a nice group of people in the chat who help us to explore new topics, keep the conversation going, and develop a safe and friendly community.

As always, we welcome suggestions for chat night topics, as well as any feedback. Let your voice be heard! For all our regulars and newcomers, we hope to see you there and to keep our chat night going strong in the years ahead!

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Sep 21 2016

“If you could restore your hearing, would you?”

Blog topic written by Hannah Mann, A Croaking Dalek With Laryngitis

The first time I thought about this scenario, I hesitated.

As I’ve mentioned in another post, I grew up with the impression that deafness was this great obstacle to be overcome, to be excised out of my daily life as much as possible. To boot, I grew up in a very religious community that was big on faith healing. My mom, especially, prayed regularly for my hearing to be restored, and I went along with it as a kid. So when I started reading news articles about new advances in treating hearing loss…

By all rights, I should’ve responded with a resounding “yes.” But I didn’t. I was afraid that I would be changing myself. This, even though I’d already gotten a cochlear implant and knew that it didn’t take anything away; it just gave me more access. Whether I wanted it or not– mostly not, for most of my formative years– deafness had already shaped my identity. So, when I thought about taking that away… I paused.

But when I dove deeper into it, I realized that regained hearing couldn’t erase my past experiences, which helped shape the perspective and strengths that I have now. I would still think and feel “deaf,” if that makes sense. It wouldn’t make me un-learn ASL or Cued Speech, or stop hanging out with my d/hh friends; why would I have to give any of those up just because I could hear?

On the contrary, when I started speech therapy last year, I started using my cochlear implant a lot more– I mean, really paying attention to sounds around me and picking out what made people tick when it came to music and spoken language. And things started falling into place, and my world broadened just a little bit more. I stayed me, but now I had more access to the hearing world, and more potential to speak for myself without having to go through interpreters or transliterators. And to me, that’s a good thing.

Join us on Wednesday at this week’s Open Chat Night!

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