Uncomfortable navigating employment fairs or interviewing by phone? What if you’re deaf or hard of hearing?
By DIANE STAFFORD
The Kansas City Star
Today’s job search system throws barriers at persons with hearing loss. So here’s what could be a help in the Kansas City area:
Beginning at 1:30 p.m. Feb. 21, the Deaf/Hard of Hearing Job Club will launch its first weekly meeting at the Johnson County Central Resource Library in Overland Park.
Its debut is a labor of love by John Kingsley, who hit those barriers as a job hunter. He attended existing job club meetings and even was provided a sign language interpreter at the Johnson County Community College job club, but still found it hard to make use of all the resources.
So, along with the Rev. Jacob Buchholz and the Rev. Debbie Buchholz, co-pastors of the Deaf International Community Church, Kingsley is creating a job club specifically for people who have hearing disabilities.
“Deaf people face discrimination in the hiring process,” said Jacob Buchholz. “This job club will allow people to share their similar experiences and feel understood.”
The new job club also might help raise awareness among employers about the tools available to conduct interviews with applicants who are deaf or hard of hearing.
Videophones and relay operators can facilitate phone interviews. Split-screen computer software can allow for real-time communication that combines spoken and typed words. Sign-language interpreters can accompany candidates on job interviews.
Unfortunately, those extra steps often eliminate hard-of-hearing and deaf candidates from consideration. That population group has a jobless rate many times higher than the overall population.
Interestingly, the KC-Hearing Loss Association of America will host a public discussion on hearing loss in the workplace at 1:30 p.m. Feb. 23, at the same library.
The goal: To “share ideas and hear from others with hearing loss who have successfully landed jobs, advocated for accommodations in their workplace and maintained working relationships.”