As a Deaf person, I know and have experienced the common misconceptions about Deaf people. The problem is that most people have never worked with a Deaf colleague, and so their misconceptions are perpetuated.
Sometimes people assume that Deaf people can lip read perfectly, but even the best lip reader can’t catch everything at normal speed. Sometimes people instinctively raise their voice to talk to Deaf people, although to a Deaf person, that can be quite intimidating, as it can give the impression we’re being yelled at. Aside from that, many people just don’t know how to behave around Deaf people, so they feel awkward, which can result in unintentional and unfortunate exclusion.
That’s not necessarily their fault, but it requires education and open dialogue on all sides to build positive relationships. Thankfully, when I joined Standard Chartered recently, I found people were willing to make that effort.
Before I applied, I had a positive impression of the Bank because of its work in the diversity and inclusion, especially the disability inclusion, space.
Before I attended my interview, I wanted to be doubly sure how it would be carried out, so I wrote in to explain about my condition and request a video call interview. The interviewers were very supportive of the format I asked for. At one point in the interview, there was a technical issue and communications broke down, but Pooja, one of my interviewers, called me on WhatsApp to continue the discussion, which is something I’ve never experienced before. She made sure to speak slowly so I understood her.
Once I had succeeded in getting the job, Pooja contacted me. She wanted to discuss what kind of support I would need to smooth the transition to a new workplace and a new team, and I really appreciated the effort. She also assured me that everything I needed would be in place. The team onboarded BlueJeans so that I could use the closed caption technology to help with meetings, and she informed the other team members about my needs. It was a wonderful start for me and helped bridge any potential insecurities on either side.
Since I joined, I’ve been able to connect with Deaf colleagues from China, India, Japan and Malaysia. It was heartening to see that the Bank is proactively hiring Deaf people and giving them the proper support. There is even a full-time sign language interpreter, whose role is to mediate conversations if needed, and to help train hearing colleagues in sign.