Meeting the Challenge - Hearing Impaired People in the Workplace.
A summary of the chapter, The Professional Environment, qualifies the 1982 survey respondents as true professionals under six separate headkings: professional parentage; high level education; managerial, professional or technical occupation; median salary; job satisfaction; and professional and community services applications.
In Chapter Two, Communication, the author discursses employment situations where particular modes of communication are and are not an asset to the hearing impaired professional, i.e.: the advantage of sign language skills in the fields of education, rehabilitation and other human services professions and in theater; the value of oral communication competency in hearing and speech oriented environments; and employment areas where communication in any mode is not a factor. Reference is made to the effects of early onset of hearing impairment on verbal language development and the possible impingement of lack of fluency in language on higher learning and professional accomplishments.
Chapter Three, Education, indicates that the great majority of the 1982 survey respondents received their basic training through education and that more than half of them are graduates of residential schools for the hearing impaired. That the hearing impaired person has to be better educated than his hearing counterpart to achieve a similar goal appears to be indicated in the fact that 92.7 percent of the survey respondents in professional and managerial positions had college degrees, while only 51.8 percent of their hearing peers had either completed or attended college. At every educational level, the survey respondents' median salaries were less than the median earnings of the general population.
Job Finding Methods, Chapter Four, authored by Terry H. Coye, probes deeply into all of the methods hearing impaired people use in job finding, including preferred methods of communication.
In general, it was found that deaf professionals do not differ greatly from normally hearing professionals in use of job finding methods. One significant difference is that formal methods are used more often by hearing impaired professionals than by hearing professionals seeking employment in general business and that they confront more resistance from employers. It may be noteworthy that vocational rehabilitation placement services were not mentioned as a resource used by hearing impaired professionals.
Chapter Five, Working Conditions, opens with the statement that 62.9 percent of the survey respondents were employed in the field of education of the deaf. The difference between serving hearing impaired people and serving the general public is discussed. Factors such as communication ease, job satisfaction, extent of hearing impairment, education, salaries, relationship with co-workers, and discrimination are covered. The survey disclosed the median salary for hearing impaired professionals outside of the deaf field is higher than for their counterparts in the field of deafness and that promotions for them are more frequent.
Predictors of Socioeconomic Status, Chapter Six, authored by John G. Schroedel, reviews various surveys that have been made on hearing impaired and normally hearing groups and assesses the sociopsychological differences and similarities in the two populations. A sample difference cited was the lesser effect of parental social class on the educational and occupational achievements of hearing impaired people. A similarity was found in educational attainment as the most important predictor of an individual's occupational status in both groups. Underrepresentation of hearing impaired people in high-status professions was held responsible, in part, for their lack of socioeconomic equality in comparison to the hearing population.
Chapter Seven, Comparing the Eras, evaluates the findings of the 1960 and 1982 studies, some of the more significant being: hearing impaired professionals in 1982 working in hearing environments had more co-workers able to communicated with them in sign language; onset of hearing impairment in the 1960 group occurred mostly after age 6 and before age 6 in the 1982 group; doctorates were earned by 6.3 percent (92) of the 1982 respondents compared to 5.7 percent (5) of the 1960 group; more occupations were held by the 1982 group and the concentration in occupations of the two groups differed with more in executive and management related positions and science in 1982 and chemistry and engineering in 1960. In salary level, the 1982 group was a little better off. Use of interpreters by hearing impaired professionals was not mentioned in the 1960 study and telecommunication devices for the hearing impaired did not then exist.
Chapter Eight, Perspectives in Employment, authored by Steven L. Jamison, considers the advances that occured in the 1960-1982 period in higher education opportunities for hearing impaired people and in industry awareness and acceptance of hearing impaired applicants and what remains to be done.
Chapter Nine, Summary and Conclusions, discusses the findings of the 1982 study in terms of implications. The remarkably high educational attainments of the respondents (92 doctorates compared to 5 in the 1960 group and many more master's degrees from an array of higher education institutions) should bring to an end non-acceptance of hearing impaired applicants at colleges and universities over the country; the steady increase in employment of deaf people in high level of professional and managerial positions can be expected to create a growing market for the special skills they bring; the prediction in the chapter that "we shall probably see a hearing impaired university provost or president" has indeed occurred in the selection in 1988 of a deaf president at Gallaudet University. While prospects for continuing advancement of hearing impaired people in high level professional and managerial work in any area of service are quite positive, the future for those interested in teaching hearing impaired children is less bright. Accounting for this is the declining attendance at residential schools for the hearing impaired, long an employment mainstay for the majority of college and university trained hearing impaired people. The strong trend to mainstreaming all handicapped pupils is also reducing the employment opportunities of hearing impaired teachers. Implications for the upward mobility of hearing impaired professionals are also seen in the increasing availability of professional interpreters and the numerous high technology telecommunication devices becoming accessible to hearing impaired professionals and the prospects of more of them in the future.
Meeting the Challenge - Hearing Impaired Professionals in the Workplace by Alan B. Crammatte, with chapters by Terry H. Coye, Steven L. Jamison and John G. Schroedel, Gallaudet University Press, 1987, may be purchased at $24.95 per copy through the Gallaudet University Press, Box 87, 800 Florida Avenue, N.E., Washington, DC 20002.
Mrs. Adler, formerly Assistant Chief, Deafness and Communicative Disorders Branch, Rehabilitation Services Administration, is now retired and living in Washington, D.C.