Healthcare Careers Not Readily Available for People Who are Deaf
- Published on Wednesday, 04 July 2012 10:19
A study led by a team of health and education professionals has found that people in the deaf community are finding it difficult to find employment in the field of healthcare. The team of 20, called the Task Force on Health Care Careers for the Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Community, consisted of proffessionals from Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C.; the National Technical Institute for the Deaf, a college of Rochester Institute of Technology; University of Rochester Medical Center; and Rochester General Health Systems, along with individual representatives.
Their goal was to find ways to overcome barriers faced by those in this community when trying to enter into a healthcare career. They interviewed those who had been unsuccessful and successful entering into this field and those who were currently trying to make it.
T. Alan Hurwitz, president, Gallaudet University said of the study, "By identifying the barriers and suggesting solutions, we're that much closer to achieving a level playing field for future deaf and hard-of-hearing students."
The study found, less than 6 percent of people with hearing impairments work in the healthcare industry which is significantly less than those without such impairments. This is likely a result of the lack of proper technology to make training and the workplace accessible as well as the perceptions of prospective employers.
According to the press release of their two year study, they also found:
• Deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals are underrepresented in health care fields.
• Not only are proportionally fewer deaf and hard-of-hearing persons employed in health care professions, but when they are employed, they are in positions that require less education (such as nursing, psychiatric and home health care aides).
• The health care industry is expected to increase 22 percent and generate 3.2 million new jobs through 2018 – more than any other employment sector – due in part to the increasing elderly population. Shortages in trained employees to fill these jobs are predicted.
• Proposed solutions to break down the barriers include improvements in health care-related educational and employment opportunities for deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals, employer awareness programs regarding the benefits of hiring and supporting deaf and hard-of-hearing employees, and the widespread use of innovative access technologies along with creative approaches for funding access services. Also recommended are the creation of a website to act as a clearinghouse for information on programs and available resource and internship opportunities for students and prospective employers; program development to share best practices in teaching deaf and hard-of-hearing students in the classroom and clinical settings; and the establishment of a national advisory group to accomplish long- and short-term goals suggested by the task force.
Congresswoman Louise Slaughter (D-NY), who announced the formation of the task force in 2010 said, "One of the major challenges facing us now is the critical shortage of health care specialists at all levels of training to care for the citizens of our nation, and that challenge coincides with another, much lesser-known serious challenge: the limited opportunities for qualified deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals in this country to pursue careers in health care. The findings of this study present win-win situations for the health care industry and for deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals, which is why I am so proud of NTID and Gallaudet for their dedication."