06 February 2011

Employment Discrimination Against People with Hearing Loss

Employment Discrimination Against People with Hearing Loss
© Rhianon Elan Gutierrez
Originally published on Hearing Loss Nation
February 6, 2011

Unemployment has plagued many Americans, and young people and people with disabilities have been greatly affected by the crisis.  On February 4th, the ABC TV show What Would You Do? aired a segment that explores what happens when two deaf applicants decide to apply for a job in a coffee shop in New Jersey.  The managers (both male and female) and the two deaf applicants (both female) are played by actors, and the goal of this show is to see what bystanders would do in this type of situation.  Would they stand up, remain ignorant, or offer advice to the applicants or manager?  See for yourself.

Image courtesy ABC's What Would You Do?

In social psychology, there is a concept known as the bystander effect, which states that people won't interfere in an emergency situation if they know that there are others present who can interfere instead.  There were a handful of people who DID interfere in the girls' case, but I wonder how many more would interfere if the situation had been different: with men, with people of color, with people with multiple disabilities, or even with more diverse managers.  What do you think?

There are some of us on HLN who have experienced this type of public discrimination, but there are others who have experienced discrimination in private.  Since this talks specifically about public discrimination, what are some ways that we can challenge public discrimination if a) it happens to us, b) it happens to our friend, or c) we witness it happening from a distance?  I have personally found myself to be a stronger advocate in situations of public discrimination.

It's easy to talk about what we did or did not do in the past.

What can we do NOW and in the future?

How can we build a support team who can help us when we encounter this discrimination from people?

And, how can we strengthen our skills in the areas where we seek employment so that we are ready to show future employers our best?


  1. i like ur article and it really gives an outstanding idea that is very helpful for all the people on the web
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  2. I am a 58 year old single woman with hearing loss. I know I am being discriminated against because of this reason. I have had one surgery on my right ear at the Cleveland clinci but still have miffled hearing. My dr. is talking of more surgies due to eustachian tube dysfunction. MUFFLED HEARING AND HEARING LOSS ARE DESTROYING MY CHANCES OF FUTURE EMPLOYMENT . WHAT HELP CAN I GET? TERESA