The Career Foundation: Future at Work

The advantage of Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing job candidates for your business (with Patrick Cross)

March 04, 2022 The Career Foundation Season 2 Episode 5
The Career Foundation: Future at Work
The advantage of Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing job candidates for your business (with Patrick Cross)
Show Notes Transcript

In this episode, The Career Foundation’s Empowering Abilities (EAP) team speaks with Patrick Cross, Professor and Program Coordinator for The Deaf Empowerment Program at Mohawk College. 

Listeners will learn about Deaf culture and some of the barriers members of the deaf/deaf and hard of hearing community face when it comes to finding employment. The EAP Team will also explore how Patrick has become an advocate for the deaf/deaf, and hard of hearing community and further discuss his role with the Deaf Empowerment Program at Mohawk College. The podcast provides information on the advantages of hiring someone who is deaf/deaf or hard of hearing. For more information on the Deaf Empowerment Program at Mohawk College, please visit

Watch the episode on our YouTube channel here.

Kyle R  0:02  
This is the career foundations future at work podcast and webinar series. Each episode, we explore critical topics affecting the workforce and workplace with a key focus on new and emerging trends across high growth industries. Whether we're discussing the skilled trades, Youth Wellness, an education, or supports for persons with disabilities, you'll learn about some great resources to help you or someone you know, navigate current and future careers. You can visit us at career To learn about all of our programs and services. Thanks for listening.

Frank  0:41  
Thank you for joining the career Foundation's future work podcast and webinar series. This week, you're listening to our empowering ability segment, which features topics like accessibility in the workplace, mental health and well being job search advice for persons with disabilities, and inclusion and diversity tips for employers. My name is Frank Tufano, job developer and outreach worker for the empowering abilities program. And on today's episode, we're going to be talking about the Deaf, Deaf and Hard of Hearing community accommodations and employment. We have a very special guest with us, Patrick cross, professor and program coordinator for Mohawk College's deaf empowerment program. Welcome, Patrick. And thank you for being here.

Speaker  1:35  
Thank you for having me. It's a pleasure to join this with you today.

Frank  1:41  
All right, so let's get things started. Can you tell me a bit about yourself, and how you became an advocate for the Deaf, Deaf and Hard of Hearing community? Sure,

Speaker  1:59  
I've been working here at Mohawk College, and academic upgrading deaf empowerment program for 21 years. And in the past four years, I have been the program coordinator as well. So how did this all begin? I think it started some time ago, you know, my involvement in the deaf community, you know, was around 21 university years I grew up speaking. I was an aural deaf person, I became immersed in the deaf community. And I noticed language deprivation. Many deaf people did not have the same opportunities. And I think that people who can hear have opportunities that they take for granted that are not accessible to the deaf community. And as I started teaching, I noticed something common about my students. They just didn't have those same opportunities as other hearing individuals do. And they didn't have the same opportunity to become successful. There was an imbalance there.

Frank  3:22  
Thank you for sharing that with us, Patrick. As a member of the deaf community, can you explain to listeners what is deaf culture and what makes it unique?

Speaker  3:38  
Sure, so the word death really has two different meanings, very different meanings. For most people, they see the word death and it's not capitalized. And they think of it from a medical perspective. It's a person who can't hear that hearing needs to be fixed. That person needs help, and so forth. But the other meaning to deaf is to capitalize deaf capital D F. And the Deaf community has taken ownership of that word. It's our identity, it is our culture. We don't see ourselves as disabled are we see ourselves through our own way of life? We are a linguistic and cultural minority. And that's our view towards ourselves. We have a history, heritage identity values and the primary way of communication is through sign language. A lot of people think that ASL American Sign Language that itself is just you know, taken from English and you throw some signs on top of English words, but it is not it is not The same as English. It is a distinct separate language legitimate language with its own grammar, with its own syntax and other linguistic structures. Also, some people call deaf people hearing impaired, they will use that term. From our view. It's a very offensive term. Because it sounds impaired sounds like something is broken, it's damaged. It's less than. So we use and prefer the term deaf and just deaf alone. And people outside of the community, maybe they view deaf individuals as being less than, and they are more likely to use the term hearing impaired. So why, yeah, that's what makes the the culture distinct and unique.

Frank  6:05  
I think that's really great for our listeners to know. So Patrick, how did you become involved in the Deaf empowerment program at Mohawk College?

Unknown Speaker  6:24  
So 21 years ago, I began at that time, there were two teachers working in the Deaf empowerment program. And they found that they needed someone as a backup when others were pulled away for other work needs. Someone was sick. So I came in as a substitute. I enjoyed I had taught before I met their needs. And I was hired. The first year, I worked maybe once a week as a supply whenever the need arose. And, you know, I volunteered my time. I was there as as well. A year later, one of the individuals left the program, one of the instructors. And so I was hired on full time, and I've been there since.

Frank  7:12  
That's wonderful. So who is eligible? And what do students learn while in the program?

Speaker  7:26  
Sure, well, our program is open to Deaf, Deaf and hard of hearing adults. We teach through ASL, there is no speech. There's no other language, the primary language of instruction is Esau. Because we believe that the students can identify with our experiences, we can be role models, as they navigate some challenges. We found many of the students in our program come to us as a bridge, a bridge between high school graduation, and then on their way to college or employment. So, you know, they have graduated high school, and learning using ASL. But there may be some gaps in their English in terms of the preparation or ability to enter college or employment fully. So we become the bridge to that. We have two pathways in our program. One is academic. And that's for students whose goal is to enter college. And the other pathway is employment. So students who are not interested in college but want to focus on employment skills. That's the pathway we provide. We teach communication, grammar, reading, writing, developing essays, communicating through the use of memos, those kinds of things. We also teach numeracy, and that can vary whatever the needs are for a particular college program or their employment. We also provide employment skills, such as job readiness, career planning, so we teach those skills as well to move the student forward to success.

Frank  9:23  
Thank you for sharing that with us, Patrick. Switching gears here. What would you say are some of the biggest barriers for members of the Deaf, Deaf and Hard of Hearing community when it comes to finding employment?

Speaker  9:43  
That's a really good question. It's very hard to pinpoint specific reasons because I think there's a number of things happening. For example, communication, communication can be a barrier. So what happens is the Deaf person in their communication is not the barrier. It's quite often from the employer, the employer who is taken aback and and doesn't know what to do when they're faced with a deaf person, how am I going to communicate with them? They may be nervous, they may have some anxiety, well, how am I going to communicate with this deaf person. So also, there are a lot of us incorrect assumptions, some misconceptions around deaf people. So I'll give you one example. Many employers assume that it will be expensive to hire a deaf person, because they will require a lot of accommodations. And that could be costly. When in reality is 58% of all of the commendations required, don't cost a penny, there's no cost associated with them. There's just some accommodations that require some changes. And also accommodations could be about a $500. Cost. Well, you know, that comes in at the same price as a special chair to support someone's back, that may be the same cost spent on putting in a desk, that's a sit stand desk for workers to stand while they're working. So, but unfortunately, the misconception is, oh, I think those accommodations will be very costly. That's what employers are thinking. In terms of job accommodations, there was a study done in January 99, of $1 invested for a deaf person return the investment on the return is $40. So clearly, there are clearly there's benefits cost benefits.

Frank  11:58  
Absolutely. So what do you think can be done to remove some of the barriers?

Speaker  12:13  
There's two approaches that you can take in overcoming the barriers. One is, two years ago, we set up a committee brainstorming ways and ideas to break down those barriers. Hamilton hub, we wanted to set up a hub of information Central and available to employers, and people who are looking for employment. So there would be information resources, whatever is needed to prepare for interviews or to make those connections. And also would benefit employers because there would be a number of resources available, tips, suggestions, ideas, where to find information. Unfortunately, COVID put a hold a temporary hold on that priority. Hopefully, as things, as they say, go back to normal. There that hub will be developed. And I think that it would really benefit a lot of the employers a lot lots for them to have a lot of information available to them. I think it would reduce some of their nervousness, their anxiety around hiring deaf people. Then the other possible approach is my team here at Deaf empowerment program, where we are the experts. And we know how to present and provide information on how to break down barriers, provide simulation exercises, and the presentation is called demystifying deafness, that helps people increase their understanding, to understand why they may be experiencing some resistance and how to remove that resistance. And so we can come out to other groups and peoples and provide that workshop. I'm happy to come and present to your organization, any organization that has made

Frank  14:19  
that's wonderful, thank you. To those employers who might be worried about hiring members of the disability community due to inadvertently saying or doing the wrong thing. What would you or sorry, how would you alleviate their fears?

Speaker  14:45  
The best way is to access information resources, for example, Bob, that I just mentioned that would provide the kinds of information on how to to conduct yourself in an appropriate, non offensive manner, but really the best way, ask your employee? What? How do you identify yourself? What term do you use? And that's true for any disability, whether a person is blind in a wheelchair, ask the person themselves, how would you deal with this? That's really the best way. Also, I remember more recently, there were some comments, or, more recently, my comments about hearing impaired, that, you know, people are well intentioned. But in their life experience, they grow up, they think that that's the proper term, they think that the person is less than, or it's this very paternalistic view. And often people when they see that term disability, well, the, the prefix D is dis means there's something wrong with the abilities. And we need to do is we have to look at the person first, not their disability. Again, ask the person, they'll provide the answer to your question.

Frank  16:25  
Absolutely, I think that's the best way to approach it. So now, what are some of the advantages to hiring someone who is Deaf, Deaf or Hard of Hearing?

Speaker  16:45  
To answer that question, I have to respond with how much time do you have, we could spend all day talking about this. So what I'll do is I'll highlight some of the benefits the important benefits. Deaf people are very highly visual alert, people have a visual acuity, which means attention to detail. Unfortunately, people who can hear are often distracted by the noises in their background. But Deaf people use their eyes consistently. And they're great at catching details. If you have a business that's willing to support and invest in deaf staff, there's less turnover. They deaf people tend to stay with an employer for a longer period of time, their attendance is better than those that can hear. And as I mentioned before, they're highly visual, and adaptive people. So they can provide support in problem solving. Also, when you hire deaf people, you're providing more diversity in your workplace. People come from different backgrounds, different skills, different abilities. And overall, there's benefit in everyone learning and becoming more open minded, being in a diverse work environment. Also, deaf people have a high ability to problem solve, to identify gaps, especially around communication, because they've spent their whole life learning to overcome. And so they've become experts, communication experts. So they will find a way to solve communication barriers. Maybe there's some awkward that first day and then no time passes, and everyone becomes used to the situation. Another benefit is a different perspective. Maybe a business owner doesn't realize that deaf people, through their experience, see things differently. They may offer some new marketing ideas that someone else would never think of. But it's through their life experience that they've developed a different view, a way of a different perspective. And then finally, most importantly, I feel they have better safety records on average, and there's two different studies. The first study showed that Deaf, Deaf and Hard of Hearing workers have a 98 98% safety record you know If you look at any group of people on their safety record, they're in the top category. Again, it's that reliance on the eyes, that visual acuity, that visual perception, the ability to pay attention to detail. The other study around safety is wisdom on truck drivers, truck drivers, Van drivers, long haul. And Deaf, Deaf and Hard of Hearing drivers have better driving records. Again, that relates to that visual acuity. You know, drivers in vehicles often have their have music on and they're less attentive. So yeah, better driving records.

Frank  20:53  
Thank you so much for sharing that information with us, Patrick. That's about all the time we have for today. I'd like to thank Patrick, my guest Patrick, for taking the time to educate us.

Speaker  21:09  
Well, thank you for inviting me to join. And I hope that the information I shared offers some new ideas, some new perspectives. For those who are watching and absolutely any doubts, please do reach out contact me. I can provide more information, ideas, tips, whatever you might may need. And I appreciate your time for listening today.

Frank  21:35  
Thank you, Patrick. We appreciate your time as well. Great. I just wanted to note that the career Foundation's empowering abilities program can support members of the Deaf, Deaf and Hard of Hearing community in finding and keeping employment by providing job placements. One on One individual training, we can provide industry specific training and funding for workplace accommodations such as ASL interpreters, and software to help with the success of our clients. We can also support inclusive employers in finding and keeping new talent by providing job coaching on the job training, and wage subsidy to offset the cost of training over a span of 12 weeks. The empowering abilities program is a government funded employment program aimed at helping connect employers to job ready candidates for their business. Our experienced staff helped pre screen pre select and assist with the retention of new employees with various barriers. Please check out our website at career for more information. Thank you again for joining the career Foundation's future work podcast and webinar series. Be sure to visit us online at career and connect with our empowering abilities team on Instagram by following at the Career fnd dot EAP that's at th e c a r e r f nd dot EAP You can also search for the career Foundation's future word podcast on Spotify, Apple podcasts, Amazon music, and YouTube. Until next time, this has been the future work podcast. Have a great day everyone.

Kyle R  23:24  
Thanks for tuning in to the career foundations future at work podcast and web series. To learn more about our workforce development initiatives, visit our website at WWW dot career And follow us on social media. To listen to our previous episodes. Subscribe to the future at work podcast on iTunes or Spotify.