Deaf Community Needs Career Guidance

INDIVIDUALS with speech and hearing impairment require also require assistance in choosing career paths so as to widen their choices of employment.

By Patricia Mashiri

In most instances in Zimbabwe, Deaf people end up eking a living from vending or some informal trade, in the process, increasing their vulnerability to economic shocks in the event of an emergency such as the COVID-19 pandemic or political instability occuring.

In an interview with HealthTimes, Ms Tinotenda Chikunya, the Deaf Zimbabwe Trust (DZT) Communications said it has always been difficult for Deaf people to choose career paths largely due to communication and language barriers.

For learners and deaf students, it is difficult for them to choose career paths because sometimes there is always a problem with parents choosing for their children or teachers just saying these children can not amount to anything so they throw them to woodwork or some subjects when they are still at school. Even at tertiary institutions, there is also some of these courses that cannot accommodate them, sometimes there is always that language and communication barrier, there is no lecture who is competent in sign language so that comes a challenge is executing the career path they want,” said Chikunya.

She added that a number of organizations were not disability inclusive with regards to infrastructure itself and policies.

“Some of them are discriminatory starting at the application phase where someone applies and indicates that they are deaf because the company doesn’t reasonable accommodation to cater for someone who is deaf when they come for the interviews they are then eliminated from the shortlist of interviews.”

Deaf children are sometimes left out even during when other children are going for career orientation. They are often left out because people regard them as people who cannot amount to anything.

“Some organizations have tried to close that employment gap, they have tried to bring in a sign language interpreter during interviews and within the premises. I can talk of Larfage cement. Having company policies that clearly regulate how PWDs should be employed  is a plus. PWDS will have options in choosing their career paths and the same should be implemented in tertiary institutions,” said Chikunya.

Deaf Zimbabwe Trust helps in facilitating the enrollment of learners with disabilities in different learning institutions where each year, they invite members with disabilities to enroll in various disciplines such Social work,  teaching, journalism among others.

Meanwhile, Marvin Mukuyu, (33), Mr Deaf Zimbabwe 2014, a model and an artist said deaf people are not given opportunities to prove themselves.

“Whilst competition is stiff, I believe that with good exposure and access to opportunities deaf people are able to compete effectively in the industry. Another challenge maybe sign language interpreters who can bridge communication barrier. In 2015, DiMarco the first deaf winner of the CW’s America’s Next Top Model Cycle 22, he had sign language interpreters who were helping with communication.

“I believe that disability is a social construct and if people are intentional about building an inclusive society, it will be possible for deaf people to fulfill their dreams. It only requires people to change their attitudes and the way they perceive disability in order to break down barrier. Choosing careers and being taken in for jobs have been a difficult task for the deaf mainly because they communicate differently with others and many organizations and institutions do not have sign language interpreters therefore most dreams are shuttered because of lack of proper communication.”

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