The desire for career advancement can come to a halt if you make a mistake. You may feel you should pull back to stay where you are, not get your hopes high.
You see a potential opportunity to take on more challenging assignments at work. In fact, your manager has been encouraging you to take on this opportunity. It would mean that you have to get out of your comfort zone.
The new role will expect more than usual working conditions—regular meetings with people, sometimes 15 or more times a week. You work collaboratively among different people on a project.
There is a lot of spontaneity. Things happen fast and work organically. You are constantly meeting with teams strategizing, giving feedback and shifting from one responsibility to another.
You’ve worked in conditions with ease and structure under predictable meeting times, and everything, including your accommodations, is arranged well in advance. You got away with not speaking at meetings and just followed along with the closed caption and notes later.
Things will not be the same if you want to prove yourself. You’ll need to attend meetings prepared and ready to speak and contribute to the conversations. You need real-time access to all the conversations happening to the point that you are considering looking at a full-time interpreter.
The speech-to-text application wouldn’t work for you. The company policy has strict usage of these applications over privacy concerns.
Requesting a full-time interpreter may seem complicated and risky when your employers have already invested in you. The company’s revenue is down this year, and so are budgets.
You’ve heard the company say over and over again to keep costs down. How is this unexpected cost of another human being going to work? Yet, it’s the only way you can see; this is your window of opportunity to rise up your career ladder.
It’s a lonely decision you are in. You’re the only employee in this company with hearing loss. They were progressive in the first place to hire you. But any slip up on this expensive request, you worry that it would cost you your job and the company questioning if they should ever have hired you in the first place.
A plan in place will get you to receive the accommodation you deserve, more options for career advancement and much better pay to reflect the result of your work.
The key to dealing with any accommodation request, primarily if you work for an employer unfamiliar with people with your disability, is to come prepared.
Develop a business mindset
You need to have the mindset of a business person. You operate in an environment that aims to generate income in exchange for value. The same applies if you work for a non-profit, charity or government. However, instead of generating more money, efficiency may be a priority. You’ll need to speak in the language of your organization. Find out what the priorities are and use the language they use to communicate their priority.
Review all possible accommodation
You want to come prepared with a review of all the possible choices available to you and some quick pros and cons for each. It would be best to come prepared when you meet with your manager to discuss your options.
Coming to the table with only one option is enough for managers to question why you show to share one option. You could be perceived as persuading them to your preferred choice- an emotional decision. It could be that there is only one option at the end, but you still should highlight other available choices to build trust.
Explain the return on investment
Whichever option you choose for you, you need to highlight in monetary terms the cost of continuing the way it is. This may require you to examine some monetary value for your team’s expenses.
Come up with the cost or loss of not doing your work correctly, the cost of fixing mistakes and the time setback. You’ll start to see that hiring an interpreter isn’t that expensive relative to the ripple effect that can arise without doing the best thing for you and the team.
Once employers get the bigger picture, they wouldn’t hesitate to invest to continue demonstrating that they are an inclusive and diverse workforce. They need you to show that employees can move up the career ladder of various backgrounds.
Sometimes the cultural fit isn’t there
Not every organization is born with a culture of inclusivity. Choosing organizations willing to invest in people and their differences is essential. It is tough to change a culture.
If you have a culture of acceptance, your request to begin with, will not be frowned upon, and you will be able to get the support you need.
Don’t let accommodation be the end of moving up the ladder
Being deaf or hard of hearing shouldn’t end any possible career advancement. You may be the first and only that your employer has experienced. Now is the time to be prepared to build your case so that you can take on more responsibilities.
You will be responded favourably with the support you need in the right environment. Most importantly, the next time someone like you joins the company, they will be able to see what’s possible.
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