Yea, I do my own laundry. Mom taught me well especially when she shipped me off to school. I resumed doing it about a year ago. Steph was complaining about the huge pile of laundry and for three people, it just seemed surreal. So, I started doing my own laundry to prove a point. Out of uptenth number of loads per week, only one is mine. We have a teenager kid who thinks Hotel Spritzer means he can wear three changes of clothes and use three towels, a day. So, I was trying to convey a message to Steph. Well, I still am…
The point of all this is despite my hearing disability, I can manage on my own in many ways. The only exception is the phone. I am getting there slowly. I bought a CapTel phone (see How I communicate (NOT in person)). Since looking for a job includes using the phone, the question becomes how much of my disability should I reveal during the search process.
Even though I have the ADA on my side and even though New York State recognizes me under Section 55b of the New York State Civil Service Law, I don’t like to flaunt or take advantage of it. I have too much pride. People tell me to take advantage of it…its there for my benefit but no, I have too much pride. And besides, I have God.
Trying to sell myself based on what I know, what I have accomplished and what I can bring to the table is easy. Explaining to them that my hearing disability is not a barrier unless there is extensive phone interaction is the tough part. I sometimes find most prospective employers won’t for a second think about whether the phone is important or not and reject my application. But I’ll also come into contact with a few who are sympathetic or who have a family member who is deaf. In theory, its a 50/50 preposition. So what do I do?
I tell them right up front – “Due to a hearing handicap, email or face to face is the preferred means of communicating”. You’ll be surprised at how many totally ignore that and still call. Now with the CapTel phone, I tell them right at the beginning of the conversation – “I am hearing impaired and I use a special phone that translates voice to text. There may be a lag. It is not that I don’t understand you or I fell asleep. I am just waiting for the text to finish.” And then I ask them if the job involves a lot of telephone contact.
The goal is to put them at ease and avoid the “what is wrong with that dude?” I want them to know that despite my disability, they are getting the brightest and most talented individual for the job. Overcoming a disability in today’s world where something might be a necessity is an achievement and a big one. And being completely and totally honest right up front has to work. Besides, with the internet today I don’t think there is any way I could hide my CIs. If I didn’t blog about them, you’ll probably notice them in the pictures on the Checkers web site. So why not score some brownie points right in the beginning.
I find that by getting the disability issue out of the way in the beginning, the rest of the process becomes easier. I no longer find myself worrying about whether it will become an issue and it eliminates having to explain something when the focus should be on the opportunity. And it paves the way for an easier phone conversation later on.
There is no need to try to come up with an excuse and there is no need to try to overly explain something that we have difficulty with. Honesty is best policy, if not the only one. Just like the Fram commercial, “You can pay me now, or pay me later”. In other words, sooner or later you’ll have to face up to the inevitable.
So…..why not do your own laundry? I do…