Limited opportunities for hearing impaired in India Inc, says Centum Foundation survey

Our Bureau Mumbai | Updated on January 09, 2018

Hearing loss and deafness pose challenges to both workers with the impairments and their employers. Though HR professionals, supervisors and co-workers may have concerns about being able to communicate with hearing impaired employees, such employees feel their plea for a better working environment is never heard.

To highlight the challenges faced by such workers in India, a survey was conducted by Centum Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Centum Learning. The survey reflected the limited opportunities for the deaf in India Inc.

The survey was conducted amongst 500 employees, of whom 92.1 per cent were deaf while 7.4 per cent were hard of hearing.

Though enthusiastic about working, deaf employees’ performance as well as participation is limited, the survey showed. The job market for them continues to be stereotypically limited to retail stores, housekeeping roles, waiters, or as data entry operators. Getting a job is even more challenging for hearing impaired women, the survey noted.

Pointing out that a person’s disability needs to become an attribute and not a liability, Sanjay Bahl, CEO, Centum Learning, said many deaf individuals in India are reluctant to take up a job because of the unfavourable environment.

“This is primarily because of lack of inclusiveness and sensitivity in their work environment,” added Aarti Chandna, Head, Centum Foundation.

Though communication between hearing people and those who are deaf or hard-of-hearing can take place in a plethora of ways, many of the employees with the disability surveyed said they do not like their work environment because of the feeling of being left out and getting strange looks from colleagues.

Lack of training

Some 18 million people comprise the deaf and hard-of-hearing population in India. Numerous qualified and capable people with disabilities (PwDs) are being neglected due to lack of training, the survey showed.

Considerable efforts will be required to improve the employability of PwDs and to ensure India catches up with the National Action Plan 2015. The goal of the plan is to create 2.5 million jobs for people with disabilities by 2022.

The need to broaden the spectrum of avenues available for the hearing impaired at corporates was specified, as were options like job mapping and tweaking of job descriptions which could open up more roles suitable for them.

Published on December 10, 2017

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