Deaf Life12th November 2013

Deaf Discrimination? You Decide

Even today some employers think its ok to discriminate.

by Sarah Lawrence

Question - What sort of society do we live in when we need to introduce Equality legislation to ensure businesses and public services treat people with a disability properly, with dignity, respect, fairness and kindness?

Secondary Question - What sort of society do we live in when that same Equality legislation is openly flouted?

Just when you think the constant drip of examples of unfairness might be slowing, two examples are shared with us that cast a shadow over the most basic principles of fairness and equality of opportunity.

In the first case a Deaf man had applied for a job. His application had been considered and he had received a letter of invitation to go for an interview. Arrangements were made for him to attend, but the employee rang his home to make alterations to the times. The applicant's mother answered the phone and explained to the caller that her son was Deaf and could not come to the phone so she would relay the information.

The caller asked for confirmation that her son was Deaf which was duly given. The mother was asked to hold on for a few moments, and when the caller returned, she stated that there had been an oversight, that the son's application had not been properly paper sifted, and that he was no longer needed for interview.

The second case is not dissimilar, but on this occasion a Deaf applicant was about to arrive for an interview. As the applicant was a BSL user the firm's HR department had arranged for a BSL/English interpreter to attend. The interpreter arrived slightly early, and as was normal practice for her, she entered the interview room to introduce herself and make sure the panel knew how to work with an interpreter. She sat down in the chair set out for the applicant, and rather quizzically, the chair of the panel asked why she was there.

"Why does the applicant need an interpreter?"
"The applicant is Deaf and uses British Sign Language," she explained. 
"If we knew that, he wouldn't have even be invited for interview," the Chair of the panel said unashamedly.

Needless to say, the applicant didn't get the job, and I'm afraid we don't know if the interpreter told him about the conversation she had had with the panel.

Are these just two isolated cases that happen to have been shared with us in the last fortnight? We doubt it somehow. Both cases appear shameful acts of direct discrimination, carried out unwittingly at best, and with callous disregard for fairness and acting on discriminatory views at its worst.

Article by Sarah Lawrence

posted in Community / Deaf Life

12th November 2013