Canadian Hearing Society position paper highlights disparity in employment rates for Deaf and hard of hearing Canadians

TORONTO, Nov. 30, 2016 /CNW/ - Today, the Canadian Hearing Society released a new position paper highlighting the need for equal access to employment for people who are Deaf and hard of hearing.

This issue was recently highlighted in Quebec, where Uber, taxi and limousine drivers are required to obtain a Class 4C driver's licence. Currently, the Société de l'assurance automobile du Québec, the province's auto insurance agency, does not allow Deaf people to obtain a 4C licence even if they meet all other criteria.

"Equal access to fair, appropriate and barrier-free employment is a right for all Canadians, whether they are Deaf, hard of hearing or hearing," says Canadian Hearing Society President and CEO Julia Dumanian. "By releasing this position paper, we are highlighting the disparity in the employment rates between Deaf and hard of hearing Canadians, and hearing Canadians. We are also addressing the communication barriers that sometimes exist in the workplace, and illustrating the ease of accommodating employees with disabilities and the value for employers who do so."

According to Statistics Canada, the employment rate of working-age adults with a hearing disability is 47.9% - much lower than the employment rate for adults without a disability (73.6%). The position paper notes that according to the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, there were nearly 50,000 students with disabilities enrolled in colleges and universities in Ontario, pointing to a large pool of skilled, yet underutilized potential employees.

"Employment, education and training is a priority focus for the Canadian Hearing Society," said Dumanian. "Many of the job seekers we support have valuable skills and education, and we work to find them an employer who can benefit from their talents. Each year, 250 people who are Deaf or hard of hearing find jobs with the Canadian Hearing Society's support."

Gary Malkowski, vice-president, Stakeholder and Employer Relations, states that business leaders are often unaware of strategies and technologies that facilitate communication between people who are Deaf and hard of hearing, and hearing.

"Business leaders cite the cost of accommodation as a deterrent to hiring someone with a disability," said Malkowski. "However, as the paper outlines, assistive listening devices such as amplified phones typically cost less than most employers think, while workplace accessibility consulting services, like those offered by the Canadian Hearing Society, are quite affordable."

According to a 2016 study, employers reported that 59% of accommodations cost nothing to make, while the rest typically cost only $500. Studies also show that employees with disabilities are often more productive than their able-bodied peers, with lower rates of absenteeism and turnover – a large cost benefit to employers. In fact, a study from Marriott reported a large gap in turnover rates among persons with disabilities (6%) versus overall turnover rate (52%).

Aside from employer perceptions about cost and skill, employers have a legal obligation to reduce barriers to communication in the workplace.

Here are links to four career success stories:

Melanie's story: http://www.chs.ca/blog/helping-clients-realize-their-dreams
Bernard's story: http://www.chs.ca/blog/communicating-without-barriers-work 
Marissa's story: http://www.chs.ca/blog/finding-right-job-right-coaching-and-support 
Jason's story: http://www.chs.ca/blog/jason-burke

To achieve accessible workplaces, the position paper suggests the need for standard provincial, territorial and national programs that:

  • educate businesses about the positive financial impact of hiring Deaf and hard of hearing employees;
  • provide employers with an enhanced understanding of disability and accessibility issues, as well as access to pool of talented, dedicated employees;
  • help employers understand that accessibility is achievable and that workplace accommodation can be affordable and effective for all employees;
  • help them understand the legislative requirements and implement them in their businesses; and
  • educate the public about effective communication between Deaf, hard of hearing and hearing people.

The paper is available in EnglishFrenchAmerican Sign Language (ASL) and la langue des signes québécoise (LSQ).

About the Canadian Hearing Society
Trusted since 1940, the Canadian Hearing Society has been providing industry-leading products, programs and services to Deaf and hard of hearing Canadians to ensure barrier-free access and increased quality of life. It is an independent, registered non-profit organization that reinvests proceeds from product and program sales back into community services.

About Employment Services
The Canadian Hearing Society's Employment Services has provided job search assistance and employment supports for job seekers and employers for more than 75 years in offices across Ontario. For more information, visit www.chs.ca

Follow us on Twitter @CHSCanada | Facebook @chssco

SOURCE The Canadian Hearing Society

Image with caption: "Released today, CHS'’s position paper, “Rights to Employment,” argues that workers who are Deaf or hard of hearing, like Melanie (pictured above), should have equal access to fair, appropriate and barrier-free employment. (CNW Group/The Canadian Hearing Society)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20161130_C6476_PHOTO_EN_828580.jpg

For further information: CHS Media contact: Marie-Lauren Gregoire, Communications Manager, Canadian Hearing Society, Email: mgregoire@chs.ca, Phone: 416-928-2500 ext. 272


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