I have to admit that even if I want to help Frederick improve its deaf-friendly status for the deaf community, I am in love with the fact of how deaf-friendly most of the employees are when I walk into a restaurant or shop. It helps when many deaf customers dine or shop there frequently, and the employees know what to expect.
However, I have noticed a huge struggle for the deaf community, including myself, in finding a job in Frederick. Maryland School for the Deaf can only employ so many deaf employees, and the school is closed during the summer. In addition, the deaf community is growing annually in Frederick. Many of us need a temporary or full-time job to support ourselves and our families.
Yes, I am aware that there are some deaf employees in positions around the city. However, I am looking at the bigger picture.
How can deaf residents of Frederick get hired when they have to compete with their hearing peers? One has an advantage over the other, and we in the deaf community are aware of which one has the advantage.
I know there is an "Equal Opportunity Employer" (EOE) statement that almost every business displays on its applications and in its buildings when hiring. However, this doesn't stop owners or employers from hiring the people they think are better qualified, and possibly "less trouble," which often are hearing people.
I don't think that anyone realizes that many deaf residents in Frederick and outside of the city have equal or better abilities and qualifications than many hearing people.
We can read and write.
Many of us have a Bachelors degree, are working toward one, or hold post-graduate degrees or are working toward one.
Even if some of us can't speak, we can communicate in other ways. We won't drive the customers away. Honest.
This note is to all employers of businesses in Frederick:
We want to be able to send in an application that says we are deaf without being afraid of losing our chance of getting the job.
Jennifer Harbaugh writes a regular column for fredericknewspost.com on a volunteer basis.