Tag Archives: deaf

How to use Deaf Gain in job interviews

In a previous article I have written about how to positively communicate your deafness towards the job market. I want to expand on this by sharing with you a certain interview question that I was asked, and how I responded.

“Why should we hire you?”

Note: this was for a position that requires analysis and problem solving, involving computer science, programming and statistics.

This is a pretty common interview question. It is usually asked in the last stage of the interview process, as it means that you have passed your skill tests and company culture fit tests. The answer to this ultimate question helps the hiring manager to decide between all the candidates who reached the last stage of the interview process. It is here that you have to make yourself stand out from all the other candidates.

What value can I add to this company by being there? How can I help this company in improving by working there? What special features do I have that can be beneficial to this company?

It was at this moment that I thought about Deaf Gain. Deaf Gain, being the playful antonym of “hearing loss”, is defined as a reframing of “deaf” as a form of sensory and cognitive diversity that has the potential to contribute to the greater good of humanity (Bauman and Murray, 2009). So I responded with the following:

By being Deaf I may have a different viewpoint towards problems. I may see certain issues that are otherwise not visible to most people, such as the need for closed captions in movies and other film media. I may have a different approach to solving problems, such as adding visual cues or details to an interface, or enriching the interface with a different method of input such as sign language or gestures. By working with me, my colleagues will become aware of these issues, these possibilities, and learn from them. They will learn about a minority group, and be made aware of its existence in society. I am an example for others on how it could be different for certain people. By being there, I can highlight human diversity inside the company, and in society. By hiring me, everyone will benefit from the new experience in working with me.

As mentioned before, it was for a position that requires analysis and problem solving. If your case is different, you may need to reword it a little bit so that it is applicable to your situation. It is my hope that this article has given you some inspiration, so that you can take advantage of your Deaf identity in your quest on the job market!

Job interviews – how to positively communicate your deafness

I have a profile on LinkedIn, and from time to time I get approached by recruiters, who sometimes have a pretty interesting offer I’d like to know more about. As it is a profile to show the best of you, positivity is an important factor, and that is the reason I do not write that I am deaf – which unfortunately has the negative connotation that you can not hear. However, I add under Languages the fact that I know several sign languages, with “native or bilingual proficiency”. This is one of the examples I’d like to share with you on what to do to improve your position on the job market as a deaf professional.
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A meaningful silence

Translated from Dutch. Original article by Gaston Dorren.

When I told my friends that I had joined a sign language course, there were two kinds of surprising reactions. Firstly, they showed much more interest than when I was learning Danish, Spanish, Russian, Norwegian, Romanian or Czech. (No, I don’t speak those languages. And yes, my friends got a lot to digest.) Sign languages seem to entice a lot of curiosity.

Secondly, even though my friend circles consist of a lot of master degree holders, and a doctor, I heard quite a few distressingly misinformed remarks about sign language. Despite so much evangelism in the beginning of the eighties by linguists and sign language advocates, many of the first misconceptions are still around. This is why I have set myself a simple goal: I will summarize seven common, but incorrect assumptions, and will deal with every one of them.

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Taking the JLPT exams – what if you are deaf?

In my previous post, I gave some advice on learning Japanese. Now, if you want to get an official recognition for your learning Japanese, you can take the Japanese Language Proficiency Test, JLPT for short (日本語能力試験, nihongo nõryoku shiken).

Actually, now that it is April, it is the time of the year to apply for the summer JLPT. In Japan, the registration forms should be available at many bookstores, and it needs to be filled in and posted by April 30th.

The test used to be in four levels, but it has been expanded to five levels in 2010:

  • N5 – the ability to understand some basic Japanese
  • N4 – the ability to understand basic Japanese
  • N3 – the ability to understand Japanese in everyday situations to a certain degree
  • N2 – the ability to understand Japanese in everyday situations and in a variety of circumstances, to a certain degree
  • N1 – the ability to understand Japanese in a variety of circumstances

When you are thinking about moving to and working in Japan, I suggest you try to pass the N2 or N1 levels: many companies ask for these. They will be OK with N2, but some may prefer N1. Having at least N2 will greatly increase your chances of getting employed in Japan.

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Learning Japanese – some advice for the deaf

Recently, I became acquainted with a British fellow, who has serious plans of moving to and working in Japan. There is nothing special about this – there are many people thinking about living in another country, and there are many expatriates sharing their experiences – except for the fact that this fellow and I are both deaf. He noticed on my public resume that I have passed the Japanese Language Proficiency Test, level 2 (old system, equivalent to the current N2), and asked me how I learned Japanese. I pointed him to an article I wrote a few years ago on another website, which I am reposting here with some edits. He told me he has been looking for this kind of information since a long time ago. The reason is that most language learning websites also suggest listening to audio tapes, and other methods which are not really suited to deaf people who also want to learn the language.

So here is my advice. Please note that this advice is by no means limited to deaf students – I believe everybody who wants to learn the Japanese language, will benefit from this article.

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