Deaf workers have thrived in diverse fields

As a deaf person, I can empathise with Mr Jon Zhang ("Employers, give deaf people a chance"; last Sunday).

I, too, have encountered blatant discrimination in my job search after graduation, and endured a prolonged period of unemployment as a result.

When employers took a leap of faith by hiring me - whether as a special education teacher, an editor with a publishing house, or a full-time professional volunteer - they never had cause to regret their decision.

Likewise, many other highly qualified deaf Singaporeans are productive and committed workers who contribute immensely to their companies and organisations. They have excelled in diverse fields such as engineering, accountancy, social service, the visual and performing arts, and administration. A number have even been awarded scholarships from both the government and private sectors.

The perceived obstacles to hiring deaf people exist mostly in one's mind. There is no real communication barrier, just different modes of communication - a point rendered even more pertinent with the ubiquitous use of mobile devices, e-mail and messaging apps.

The Singapore Association for the Deaf provides an employment support service for both employers and deaf or hard-of-hearing employees, including job counselling and on-site follow-ups.

We also conduct workshops on understanding deafness and improving communication in the workplace.

We encourage deaf job seekers to approach us to assist in referrals to SG Enable for job-matching services. We also call on companies to make use of assistive technology and schemes, such as the Open Door Programme, when hiring deaf employees.

Alvan Yap

Deputy Director

The Singapore Association for the Deaf

This article was first published on January 11, 2015.
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