Reflections from “Hear Your Way to Success”

Tasha Cox and Nicole Leung, a recreational assistant and a registered nurse, are young adults who are hard of hearing. They put together a fantastic workshop, “Hear Your Way to Success”, where they met with hard of hearing youth to talk about their careers and to inspire them on how they can achieve their dream jobs.

On April 27th in Vancouver and May 19th in Surrey, Tasha and Nicole shared their stories and experiences with small groups of high school students and their district teachers of the deaf and hard of hearing. They shared their journey of transitioning from high school to college, fears and doubts during the job search period, and responsibilities involved in their current careers.

Together, numerous topics were discussed, such as overcoming barriers; advocating for accommodations; discovering one’s unique abilities, strengths and weaknesses; and the contribution of diversity and benefits that hard of hearing individuals bring to the workplace. Nicole and Tasha provided information on what was required during the job search process in order to ensure a smooth transition into the workplace, where to find resources on equipment to help support the hard of hearing individual in their workplace, and how to establish networking opportunities to meet other hard of hearing young adults. During the panel session, students and teachers asked questions and had discussions that revolved around assistive devices, personal experiences related to social support, and how to navigate social situations. At one point in the discussion, the benefit of using the FM system encouraged a grade eight student to wear their FM system more often, which was observed by their teacher of the deaf and hard of hearing.

During an activity, the students rated ease of listening environment for various jobs, which helped bring awareness to possible listening conditions in diverse working environments. One teacher stated, “Both the students and my colleagues were so impressed with … their personal stories and experiences that were shared. It really helped the students feel understood and allowed them to hear info from people that they felt really understood their needs – better than their typical hearing resource teachers.”

Many of the students, as well as some of the teachers, were not aware of their workplace rights, such as employees having a right to decide if they want to disclose their disability in the resume, during the interview, and/or at the workplace. Whereas the employer cannot ask what your disability is during the interview stage.

Despite the initial shyness between the students who had not previously met each other, they left the 90-minute session feeling more informed about their rights and how to advocate for themselves in different social situations. From listening to what the presenters were sharing, the students felt they could relate and this created an opportunity for them to ask specific questions. For instance, a student asked, “when you advocate for your needs, how do you [request] this?” and the presenters demonstrated ways to approach this situation.

Never in Tasha and Nicole’s high school years did they think they would be standing in front of fellow hard of hearing students to tell their success stories. Teachers expressed their desire for more future sessions like these, where students were engaged and encouraged to become self-advocates.

The Peer Support Program would like to thank Tasha and Nicole for the effort and time put into this. We are lucky to have them as our active volunteers in making these workshops possible. Thank you!