Deaf Life4th November 2014

Focus on Typos Likely to Discriminate Against Deaf Job Applicants

Overzealous action to spelling mistakes in job applications shows ignorance of equal opportunities

by Sarah Lawrence

Reading a BBC article on-line yesterday, I became really worried about the chances of Deaf people in the work place. The article heading, ‘Why typos and spelling mistakes don’t matter’, filled me with hope, but the comments on the article completely changed my mood.

Written by a Lucy Kellaway, an author and Financial Times columnist, the article sets out what she describes as her “flair for typos”. Despite this, she has enjoyed 30 years in the industry. Lucy highlights significant errors in written work in the past, including headlines in the New York Times and even some passages in the Bible.

What I found interesting in the story, is that publishing typos can be a good thing for the reader, as we all feel good about ourselves apparently, if we can find fault in what someone has written. The Huffingdon Post Editor certainly did when they published their own article on the New York Times mistake using a headline, “New York Times prints glaring typo on front page.” Are typo’s really this newsworthy?

Importantly for the Deaf community, Lucy then connects such mistakes with the job market, when she commented critically on an on-line blog from a LinkedIn influencer, who listed the five sorts of people you should never hire, with ‘The one with the typo’, being number two on that list. Lucy applies what could reasonably be argued as a common sense view of this opinion, saying that discarding someone purely based on a typo might result in a poor decision being made.

When it comes to the Deaf community, an attitude that disbars a job application purely on the basis of typo (spelling mistake) would/is having an adverse affect on Deaf people and shows ignorance about deaf education in the UK. Heartened by Lucy’s common sense view of this type of attitude to CVs, I found my way to the bottom of the article when I was shocked to see that 1124 comments had been made.

To my horror, I found a significant number of people had disagreed with Lucy’s viewpoint, with comment after comment saying that if there was a typo on a CV it would immediately be put in the bin and would not be considered further. If ever we needed proof that Deaf job applicants are disadvantaged by the recruitment process, these comments are all the evidence we need.

Demonstrating a lack of Deaf and wider disability awareness, these comments are deeply disturbing and demonstrate that years of equal opportunities training have not changed attitudes to the extent it should have. Unthoughtful, uncaring and unjustified, recruiters with such attitudes are doing a huge injustice to people who might not have had the educational opportunities they have had. When it comes to Deaf and other disabled people, the odd spelling/grammar mistake might have no relevance whatsoever to their ability to do that particular job!

Such attitudes and dogmatic approaches to recruitment need to be challenged by those who are more enlightened, but with strong cultural barriers to break down, it is unlikely that we will see a speedy improvement. The problem for the Deaf community, is what it can do now to stop their applications being consigned to the dustbin. There is very little formal support available to help Deaf people prepare accurate and engaging CVs and their application letters. In many cases, that help and support will not be available in the family and friend network either.

Deaf people need help to break into this ignorant recruitment cycle, when they might then be judged by the content of their character, not their ability to apply for a job without making a single typo!

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Article by Sarah Lawrence

posted in Community / Deaf Life

4th November 2014