Looking at the concept of six degrees of separation (how all living things and everything else in the world are at most, only a maximum of six steps away from each other). As a concept, these six steps were originally set out by Frigyes Karinthy as early as 1929, but really gained traction and popularity in the 1990 play of the same name by John Guare. With this in mind, let us pose a question: What does an IT professional, teacher, nail technician, chef, model, actor, Olympic athlete and supermarket manager have in common?
How can we use six degrees of separation to find connections between the above careers and find an answer to the question posed? The answer is, we don’t have to look very hard to find the connection, we just have to look past what we can’t always see. All of the above people in those careers could be, and are, in many cases jobs done by Deaf people. If you compare other physical disabilities to that of Deafness, being Deaf is often not visible.
Due to many Deaf people often struggling to communicate freely within the hearing world (low levels of proficient SASL among the hearing, difficulty lip reading as well as general lack of Deaf awareness), this has lead to a number of negative stereotypes being formed and the Deaf being often regarded as unfit for employment (this could not be further from the truth). As a result, the Deaf community have become socially isolated. Because of this isolation, The Deaf community of South Africa, is arguably one of the most marginalised groups living within our country.
There are however many Deaf people working various jobs and careers, from IT to law, warehousing to hospitality, teaching to the food service industry and this is to name but a few. The question posed highlighted just how many jobs the Deaf community are actively involved in.
Deaf people can do anything they want as long as they are truly passionate about what they do and believe in themselves. It is important we start creating conversations and different ways of bring about real systemic change for the Deaf community. The type of change that will lead to the removal of the Deaf community from the fringes of society and bring them to a more inclusive part of the very fabric of society.
This all starts with a shift in thinking. A shift from what questions like “what type of Jobs can Deaf people do?” to “what jobs are there that Deaf people can bring a unique skill set to that the hearing may not be able to?”.
Here are three examples of jobs that Deaf people can bring a unique skill set to:
Working in nightclubs or at concerts, be it in the job of security, waiters or bar staff. Often these environments the loud music make it impossible to hear, and employees in these environments rely on basic lip reading and signing, so why not hire staff who do this everyday living in a hearing world?
Working in a job where visual surveillance and visual attention is a core aspect, are there any persons more qualified and suited to the work than the Deaf community?
Data entry jobs require concentration and the ability to accurately fill in data that has been captured into a computer, the fact that the Deaf community are less likely to be interrupted and have more attuned visual senses than their hearing counterparts makes Deaf candidates perfect for this type of work.
To find out more about how you and your company can be involved with eDeaf visit our website www.edeaf.co.za or call 011 837 7432. For any recruitment related queries kindly e-mail Jesse Kotze (COO) at firstname.lastname@example.org, for any learnership related queries kindly e-mail Stuart Loftus (Strategic Accounts Manager) at email@example.com.