Job seeking by deaf and hard-of-hearing people

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Several deaf and hard-of-hearing people face the following dilemma when looking for a job:

  1. Should I mention my deafness or hearing impairment in my resume?
  2. When should my employer be informed of my hearing impairment?

The answers differ from case to case. Some of the variables are:

  1. Is your hearing impairment sufficiently mild for you to function as well as an hearing person in one-on-one and/or phone conversations?
  2. Does the job you look for usually involve use of the employee's hearing, even if it could be restructured to accommodate you?
  3. Do you have a record of meeting tough challenges in spite of your hearing impairment?
  4. What is the general attitude of your prospective employer toward employing hearing impaired people and people with other disabilities?
  5. If you cannot use the phone, how can the prospective employer contact you in order to schedule an interview?

Should I mention my deafness in my resume or not?

Note: the following may not be relevant for USA with its ADA law.

Reasons in favor of mentioning your deafness in your resume:

  1. You mention your deafness along with technical and organizational means for overcoming it. The prospective employer has opportunity to learn something. This will benefit you and your fellows in the long run.
  2. You inform the employer that you CAN do the job in spite of your deafness, provided that he makes the requested accommodations.
  3. You do weeding-out of prospective employers who are not keen to the idea of employing a disabled person. You don't want to waste time being interviewed by such prospective employers.
  4. You demonstrate maturity by not looking for just any job, but stating at the outset what you need to be successful in the job.
  5. In Israel: explanation why you didn't serve in the army.
  6. You demonstrate your resourcefulness - you had a big handicap and overcame it. You'll be able to overcome the challenges of your job (doesn't apply if the job lacks challenges).
  7. You may already be famous, if you were interviewed in the mass communications media about your hearing impairment and how you overcame it and managed to lead more-or-less normal life in spite of it.
  8. You do not have to be awkward when explaining why you are not available for ordinary phone conversations and why the prospective employer must use alternate means (such as FAX, E-mail or TTY/TDD) for contacting you for the purpose of scheduling an interview.

Reasons against mentioning your deafness in your resume:

  1. The purpose of your resume is to get an interview for you. The employer wants to know what you can do for him, not vice versa. Mentioning your deafness defeats this purpose.
  2. Face-to-face meeting is better than written information in dispelling preconceived images.
  3. An employer is scanning your resume to find out what you can *do* for him. At that moment, he is not interested in knowing what you *want* from him.
  4. You don't want prospective employers to reject you sight unseen on the basis of your resume, so you shouldn't try to reject employers sight unseen on the basis of whether they would agree (before even meeting you and seeing what you can do for them) to give you the accomodations you want.
  5. If the job you are applying for doesn't involve lots of contact with persons, then deafness is truly irrelevant to that job.

How can a prospective employer contact me if I use TTY/TDD?

I'd like to comment on how people have dealt with leaving TDD numbers for employers during their job hunting.

In my opinion, it's important for the job seeker to be upfront about their handicap. The best way is to EDUCATE the company in the cover letter about the different ways they can communicate with you. This is how I have done it in my cover letters - usually as the last paragraph in the cover letter.

    "If you have any questions regarding my application, please do not
     hestiate to contact me at (716) 475-0019. Since I use a TDD (I don't
     usually spell it out, but that's something you could do), you will
     need to call the NY Relay system first at 1-800-662-1220. They will,
     in turn, contact me with their TDD. I trust that you will find this
     system fairly easy to use. An alternative means of contacting me
     would be by sending me an e-mail at ....."

In addition, I provide the NY Relay number beneath my phone number on my resume. If this turns off employers, then that employer may not be worth working for in the first place. But then again, I was fortunate to find a job after 4 months, and may not have experienced as much discrimination as others might have.

Just my two cents.

(Contributed by Jamie at 4 Dec 1994.)

Bibliography on job seeking by hearing impaired people

An excellent book on job seeking is, "Job-Hunting Tips for The So-Called Handicapped" by Richard Nelson Bolles (author of What Color is Your Parachute?). It is highly reccommended reading! It's 61 pages and $4.95. Makes many points, ie. everyone redesigns or modifies their jobs to highlight their abilities and get around their limitations. Discusses what fears an employer might have and ways to dispel them.

(Contributed by at 12 Aug 1994.)

To find other deafness related bibliographies, browse

Last update date: 
1996 Jan 2