There are a lot of misconceptions out there about the things we can and can't do. The only difference is that we can't hear as well as someone without a hearing loss. That's really all.
It's really disheartening to still hear stories of people I know, with hearing impairments, who apply for jobs and are open about their hearing loss, who aren't successful in getting hired or who experience discrimination in their workplace. It's a huge loss for businesses who, with their closed minds and negative attitudes towards employing people with disabilities, miss out on having incredibly talented, highly skilled and devoted people in their teams.
About 7 years ago, I applied for a job at with an employment agency, helping people released from prison to get back in the workforce. I was ecstatic to receive a phone call to secure an interview. This time I thought I would do things a little differently and let the people know about my hearing loss - the first time I had ever done so as I had always been incredibly guarded about telling people about my deafness.
My first interview went brilliantly and I was phoned to come back for a second interview, which I did. The women who were conducting the interview, after about an hour of questions and discussions, then informed me that in fact, I was too well dressed and pretty for this job and that I should go and apply for a job at the Commonwealth Bank because they employed people with disabilities.
What. The. F*#k.....?!?!?!
Never in my life had I been so shocked and angry. While I think it's brilliant that the Commonwealth Bank encourage people with disabilities to apply for work with them and that they are accepting of people with their various challenges in life, I had absolutely NO interest in working in a bank! I was completely astounded at the attitudes of these two grown women and how inappropriate they were! How dare they!!!
This experience made me all the more determined to get back out there and get an even better job, to prove to myself that I was so much more than what they thought I was capable of.
I bumped into one of these women recently, who approached me to say she had seen my article on my business in the local paper, and then said that if I was ever looking for work to let her know. Even though I wanted to say more (I really had to hold my tongue!!!) it was extremely satisfying to inform her that in fact my business was my full time job and that I most definitely wouldn't be needing any assistance from her.
Remembering my experience with her and how little she had thought of me and in turn, being able to look at myself now seeing how far I had come since that day was the BEST feeling in the world.
Never underestimate someone's abilities by focusing on what they can't do. It's also incredibly important to never, ever make assumptions on what you think they capable of. They may just completely exceed your expectations and enrich your working life in more ways than you could expect!