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Employment Success for People with Hearing Loss

Editor: The HLWork list recently had a very interesting discussion regarding the movement of jobs offshore and how that affects people with hearing loss. Rick Sinclair (sna@sympatico.ca) of Sinclair, Nicholson and Associates (SNA) provided some valuable insights on how a person with hearing loss can succeed in the workplace. BTW, Rick consults throughout Canada on hearing loss in the workplace, so he knows his stuff!

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Here’s Rick:

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October 2003

I have done time on the lecture circuit here in Canada on this very subject, talking to groups with, and about, hearing loss. Some of the suggestions:

1. Don’t assume a social safety net will catch you. It is far more satisfying to take your life and career in your own hands and figure out how to make a go of it.

2. Plan a career with a clear acceptance of what you personally can or cannot do. Train and or educate yourself accordingly. Our difficulty in communication tends to breed people with a higher than average level of determination. This is a clear advantage in the work world. In my own case, I hire “ears” where I need them.

3. Do not assume that success is defined by the high level of a job. If you love what you do, its better than being Bill Gates – unless, for a fact, you ARE Bill Gates.

4. In line with (3), and quoting from “What Colour is Your Parachute?” Find something you love so much you would do it for free, then find a way to make money doing it. You will have a very happy career, and chances are, a very successful one.

5. Realize that communication is a two way street, and the hearing person is as terrified as you are of making a mistake. You have the advantage of knowing what the problem entails. Share your knowledge, and try and make the other person comfortable in the process. Having allies, not enemies, in the workplace is a definite advantage.

6. Probably most important of all, do not become defined by your disability. We all have talent, skills, and insights that have nothing to do with how well we hear, and to concentrate on hearing alone is to deny ourselves opportunity. If there is something you were born to do, post a note to yourself on the mirror where you can see it every morning: “YES, I CAN!”