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Deaf community struggles with employment

Posted at 6:55 PM, Mar 03, 2020

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — It's difficult for anyone to get a job. But add a disability into the mix, and things can get even harder.

"I mean the real world, wow. It's tough," Yann Spindler said. "It's very frustrating because a lot of hearing people don't understand deaf culture and they're afraid of communicating with deaf people." Yann is a member of the deaf community.

According to the National Deaf Center, more than half of the deaf people living in the U.S. are unemployed. And, David Wantuck, community engagement specialist at deaf access services in Buffalo says most of those people rely on social security.

"It's not necessarily the fact of them not wanting to work," Wantuck said. "It is the fact of them having a hard time trying to get a job."

"Often times when they put things down on their resume. That they graduated from a deaf school or they graduated recently they're not able to find work," Community Service Navigator at Deaf Access Services Andrea Russell said.

"A lot of employers are looking for people who can communicate either amongst their own staff or with the community," Transition and work base learning coordinator at St. Mary's School for the Deaf Kelly Marshall said.

Sometimes, that leaves deaf or hard of hearing people behind. And, even when they do get jobs, it's not always the best experience. Yann Spindler's first job was in a restaurant.

"Everyone was hearing. I didn't understand, I had no communication I was really really frustrated," he said.

And, Loriam-Jimenez from Western New York felt the same.

"It was hard, you had to be really fast, I couldn't hear what people were telling me to do," she said.

So, programs, like those offered at St. Mary's School for the Deaf and Deaf access services are looking to help ease the transition into the working world.

St. Mary's School for the deaf has a work base learning program where all the students have the opportunity to have an on campus or off campus job. Deaf Access services provides help with resumes, mock interviews and interpreting services for both employers and employees.

"They want to do well. They want to be part of the community," Russell said. "They want to succeed in their life. That's what they want, just like everyone else."

For more information on job services, click here.