Kellie Wilson, 32, says her job hunt has been so difficult because as soon as employers realise she’s deaf, she gets rejected. This has had a huge knock on her self-confidence and she is now worried she’ll never find her dream position because of her disability.
Kellie’s loss of hearing was sudden when she was aged just 4. She relies on lip reading to understand people but says she’s absolutely sick of being rejected, despite having a range of experience – having previously worked as an administrative officer, legal assistant and finance assistant.
Kellie, who lives in Richmond, North Yorkshire, once worked as an assistant at notorious jail HMP Wakefield in West Yorkshire, from 2004 to 2009. Since then, she has had a number of temporary jobs secured through a local job agency, but the longest time spent in employment has been nine months, the shortest being just four days.
And although employers have been happy with her work, none of them have been able to offer Kellie a full-time permanent job. Now she has chosen to speak out after being repeatedly snubbed whilst applying for various jobs.
Kellie said: ‘I have had a brief span of temporary postings but nothing permanent. ‘During all this time, I’ve only managed to secure a few interviews and often I don’t get a reply at all. ‘When I do get an interview, I find it goes well until I disclose my disability. ‘I wear two very strong hearing aids but can only hear some sounds, so I lip read to bridge the gap. ‘But I cannot lip read everyone due to individual mouth patterns. It’s exhausting and frustrating. ‘After disclosing my disability, I find people suddenly warn me that the job involves a lot of phone work when it didn’t say that in the advertisement. ‘Everything goes swimmingly until I tell them about my ears and then everything changes. ‘I feel like I have to apologise and explain for something I cannot change.’
Kellie is even considering having surgery to see if her job prospects improve, although the surgery has no guarantee it will help.
Kellie said: ‘I am currently being assessed for a cochlear implant in the hope of improving my ears a little and help get a job. ‘It is meant to bypass my damaged hearing nerves and feed sounds directly to my cochlea. ‘Hopefully it will restore some clarity but there are no guarantees as each person is different. ‘There is major surgery involved to fit the implant and months of rehab ahead to re-learn sounds if it goes ahead. ‘I feel as though I am being forced to change who I am for others.’
‘I have been fighting against this discrimination my whole life and I’m sick of it.’
James Taylor, Head of Policy and Public Affairs at disability charity Scope, said: ‘It’s extremely disheartening to hear yet another story highlighting how widespread misguided attitudes towards disabled workers really are.’
‘Employers who buy into these outdated views need to realise they are shooting themselves in the foot by failing to tap into the huge pool of disabled talent.’