Discrimination is Alive & Well

I have spoken about some of my challenges regarding discrimination. After my experience, I decided to join a Facebook group for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing to connect with others. It has been about six months since I joined this group of people worldwide, sharing good and bad experiences. Unfortunately, many people have expressed a lot of frustration they deal with daily life. The biggest disappointment is that discrimination against the deaf and HOH is still alive and impacting many lives.

When I say discrimination, I am not just talking about the workforce. I am talking about in the community, at home, with friends, and workplace. I always knew my incidents were not isolated and that I was not alone with a lot of my experiences. I discovered that many people, especially those that struggle with hearing loss, feel defeated and helpless. The struggle is real and impacts every aspect of their lives.

Today someone posted that their hearing aid broke and that their work refuses to schedule them. In other words, telling them they cannot come to work because they cannot hear. This might sound crazy and even unlikely, but trust me, this happens often. I found myself in a very similar situation. My hearing aid broke, and my work was brutal. There was no sympathy, compassion, understanding, or support. Instead, they took advantage of my situation and made the job difficult for me to ensure that I would quit.

I recently did a peer review higher education level research paper exploring the experiences and opinions of educators in K-12 mainstreamed classrooms with students with hearing disabilities. This research reported that a little under half of the teachers did not feel that students with severe hearing loss or deafness belong in a regular classroom and should be placed in special education. Most stated they had no resources, education, or skills to understand or work with severe hearing loss or deafness. Almost all teachers noted that a child would do better if they did not have a hearing disability. Do you hear that? They would be successful if they were not HOH or deaf. Most blamed the student and the lack of assistive hearing devices in the classroom. In other words, people generally feel that if someone uses a hearing device, they must hear or be stubborn. I have one cochlear implant and one hearing aid. My right ear uses a hearing aid, and I only hear 1% of the spoken language without lip reading. With my cochlear implant on my left ear, I hear about 78% of the spoken language without lip reading. With a hearing aid and the implant, I hear roughly 80% of the spoken language without lip reading. So this idea that hearing devices fix hearing issues is bullshit. I am still missing out on 20% of the spoken language without lip reading.

It baffles me that people can be so ignorant, judgemental, and unwilling to understand the communication barrier is on all sides, not just the person with a hearing loss. Communication is a necessity and a right since most of our lives depend on it. However, for some reason, people in general with hearing seem to think that people like me adapt and get by. No, we don’t adjust, and no, we are not getting by. We are struggling, hurting, fighting, and trying to survive in a world that does not care.

Every time someone posts about another situation between their spouse, friend, or co-worker, the difficulty they are going through pains me. Another post was about a man hurting his spouse who was yelling at him for not hearing. This should not happen, but it does. So you can see a disability does not just impact work-life but personal life and the ability to connect within the community. When will this stop? Not any time soon. I feel bad for those unlucky who do not have the support. I had to fight for myself for many years. Even my poor husband felt helpless, not knowing what to say or do when I was going through the unfortunate events with my previous job. I hope that my luck lasts a while with my current job. When you have a disability, you learn to be thankful and pray that it will stay. Anything can change, and the ship will sink. I loved my previous job, and for a while, it was good. It took a change in management, and the ship sunk like the Titanic in the Atlantic waters with no time to escape.

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