Alan Soh aka Humourboi

I am my own columnist, publishing my thoughts!


Leave a comment

Breaking The Sound Barrier (Part 3)

Workplace

As mentiond in my earlier blog post, I was interviewed for a MediaCorp TODAY article.

The survey findings collected by my NTU student mentees are expected of sort. And that is the reason why they want to do this “Breaking The Sound Barrier” project.

There are many misconceptions about the deaf community.

There should be NO discrimination. Seek to understand them and their abilities.

I feel strongly that our employers should be open-minded to look at job suitability in accordance to abilities, and re-align work processes if possible. In fact, our Government is also trying to chip in to help, providing certain schemes to defray costs of creating an inclusive workplace.

Other than highlighting more deaf role models in press/social media, I also think it is important for these special individuals to work hard on expanding their capabilities at the same time. Learnability. Adaptability. Transferable skills. A positive attitude helps.

With confidence, aim to BLOW the minds off these employers out there –

I am MORE than what you think I am.

Here I reproduce the article:

One in two employers do not intend to hire the deaf people: Survey.

SINGAPORE — When he went for job interviews, Mr Alfred Yeo who is deaf, would be asked how he would communicate with colleagues, or if he could read lips.

Many of these companies would not follow up after.

But two years ago, the 38-year-old landed a job as an accounts assistant, and his employer made it a point to email all his workers beforehand to share details on how to communicate with deaf people.

Mr Yeo’s experience is a rare one, going by a survey of 77 companies conducted by a group of final-year students from Nanyang Technological University (NTU).

Only one in 10 employers surveyed have positive attitudes towards hiring deaf people, and one in two admit they have no intention to do so.

Some of the reasons given include concerns that deaf persons would not be able to communicate with clients, bosses and colleagues. Some of them said they had not come across any deaf applicants — perhaps by design.

Born with a dead right ear, Mr Alan Soh would struggle over whether to make it known that he was hard of hearing when he applies for jobs.

Sharing his experience, he said although he has had cochlear implant surgery done on his right ear, he remained apprehensive about writing his contact number on job applications, for fear he would not be able to clearly hear what recruiters say over the phone.

I (was) worried — will it blow my chances of being granted a job interview?” he said.

Even as they see attitudes gradually changing, deaf persons and associations that work with this group did not find the survey results surprising, noting that securing a job remains a significant challenge.

Touch Silent Club senior manager Danny Loke said: “The fear of discrimination is still very real among the deaf community as they often struggle to decide if they should indicate their hearing loss in their resumes.”

Singapore Association for the Deaf (SADeaf) executive director Sylvia Teng said the challenges facing the deaf and hard-of-hearing community can only be overcome with a “certain (level of) understanding from employers, to be willing to make minor adjustments to job requirements to engage the deaf employee in alternative ways”.

To engage with employers, SADeaf launched its job support service in January, and also found that many companies were receptive to hiring and offering equal job opportunities to deaf or hard-of-hearing persons.

Mr Soh felt that without being given opportunities, such individuals would not be able to show what they are capable of.

Many of them could be raw diamonds, having the innate potential to go far in life,” he added.

This survey was conducted by a group of communication studies students from NTU’s Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information. Called “Breaking the Sound Barrier”, the group aims to encourage employers to adopt more positive attitudes towards the hiring of deaf persons.

The group had written to over 200 companies to take part in the survey. Most of the 77 organisations that responded were small and medium enterprises.

Advertisements


Leave a comment

Breaking The Sound Barrier (Part 2)

Breaking the Sound Barrier

Breaking the SOUND barrier. Because there is NO you or them.

Through my NTU mentees, a journalist from TODAY came to knew about this project, and approached me to seek my inputs on questions he had about employment for deaf Singaporeans today.

1. What were some of the difficulties you faced during job hunt as someone who is hard of hearing? What was some of the feedback, or comments you heard from prospective employers? Has that changed, why or why not?
My response:
First and foremost, I am not born totally deaf. Hence I am not deaf mute.
I am born with a dead right ear, which means I still go to normal schools communicating with people with my left ear until the days when I was a student of ITE Bishan when I had bacterial infection in my left ear. As such I have to wear a hearing aid.
I am effectively bilingual. I can talk to anyone normally.
I did a cochlear implant surgery on my right ear in 2011.
At that point of time, I somehow knew that it will be MORE challenging, should I apply for jobs in future.
I am thankful that SG Enable and SPD employment support division provides me help.
Often in my younger days, I struggled with the dilemma of making my condition known in my CV to be submitted to employers. Because I am worried – Will it blow my chances of being granted a job interview? Being older now, I am more accepting of my disability and thus making it known in my job applications.
Frankly speaking, till today I hesitate to include phone numbers in job applications because what if I could not hear the recruiters well over the phone? Unless the mode of contact is via mobile text messaging.
Having said so, I still have to be honest about my hearing problem.
Interview sessions are for both parties to find out more about each other pertaining the job opening.
My method is – I try to be more comfortable, and perceive the potential employer “as a friend”, which it takes away the stress of “trying too hard to impress the other party”, and just be myself. The other party would also feel more comfortable. Words will come out freely and naturally. If the other party wishes to converse in Mandarin, I am able to switch effortlessly.
I try to do some small talk first to find something in common between us.
Once there is a common interest, there is rapport built and mood becomes more relaxing.
For sure, I must of course do some research on the employer before attending the interview so that I am able to answer his questions.
This is what I learnt from my journalism module when I studied Mass Communications at MDIS. The interview technique.
I guess, the little advantage which I think I have over other Singaporeans with similar condition is that, I can talk things upfront with employers during job interviews, telling them what I can or cannot do, things which interest me, my working style, experiences which I hope to gain etc.
The first question I always asked, is about communication aspect.
Questions like – Are you open to giving work instructions via emails or whatsapp? How often should we communicate face-to-face?
The feedback I got from employers, often is that “you look normal okay”, “you worry too much”, “nothing to worry about communication part since we can have a normal conversation like this”.
If I do not get the job, I would rather choose to think that I don’t fit the requirements than about my hearing disability. 
I don’t cry over spill milk. I just move on.
I sit down, reflect and do something about my employability skills.
This year I intend to upgrade myself academically so that I can deepen my existing knowledge and skills.
The most important thing is, the deaf individual should display a keen interest to learn something new and be humble.
Having that can-do spirit.
1487782122034
 
2. What do you think employers today should change, in terms of hiring deaf persons, or persons who are hard of hearing? 
My response:
Like able-bodied Singaporeans, the deaf community have various talents and abilities.
Very often we Singaporeans tend to look at people, passing judgement first on what they cannot do. These days, we become very critical of others.
I urge everyone including employers to look at surrounding people on what they can do first.
This is the biggest take-away I gain, from my previous job at a social enterprise, interacting with special needs workers.
If we give them opportunities, they might surprise you sometimes. Many of them could be raw diamonds, having innate potential to go far in life.
There is always a solution to every problem, if we are willing to pause, and think harder.
Be open-minded.
Be willing to learn the various communication modes with the deaf and hard-of-hearing such as simple sign-language or using Whatsapp (thanks to mobile technology).
They cannot hear well. They are very visual. Employers can give simple instructions in the form of pictures.
Work processes can be redesigned in a way that these deaf employees can do what they are required to do, bypassing their limitations. 
A little job stress is however essential, to make them grow. No pain, no gain.
If they do something well, praise them publicly for job well done. This will further boost their self-confidence.
Best still after sometime, employer can send them for skills-grading courses to enhance their competencies and self-dignity; and with skills certification, they can command a higher take-home pay.
We also need more deaf role models to be highlighted in mass media.
Sharing their stories of how they overcome odds to become what they are today.
This is to change the perceptions of the deaf community in the eyes of employers and Singaporeans alike.

Singapore should be truly an inclusive society where we really LEAVE NO ONE BEHIND.

Let’s lift every Singaporean up together. 

3. Why do you think employers might not be overly keen on hiring deaf people? 
My response:
Very often I believe some employers might think that “they cannot hear, cannot listen to work instructions, need to always look after them, as such they cannot make it.”
Or they might perceive that all members of deaf community are lowly educated, have bad attitudes, cannot handle a single job well.
This is a very flawed perception of them. They can be further trained.
Many of them are nice people.
As such, “Breaking the Sound Barrier” project initiated by Wong Jia Rong and his team aims to correct any misconceptions about the deaf, hoping employers across all sectors in Singapore understand that these special Singaporeans have employable qualities too.
The only little issue is – they cannot hear you well.


Leave a comment

Breaking The Sound Barrier (Part 1)

It has been several months since I rejoined Young ChangeMakers 2.0 at National Youth Council, as a YCM project curator aka mentor.

I am presently the YCM Project Mentor behind a group of enthusiastic undergraduates from Nanyang Technological University, Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information.

The team is planning a campaign, titled “Breaking the Sound Barrier”, which hopes to help the deaf community in Singapore.

1 out of every 1,000 babies born in Singapore have severe or profound hearing loss, and the team found themselves being drawn to this issue and hence, would like to do something for the deaf Singaporeans.

The main partner of this project, Singapore Association of the Deaf (SADeaf) has served the deaf community for over 61 years. To the team, it has highlighted the problem of deaf Singaporeans having difficulty in searching and getting jobs despite having the same qualifications as others. As such, there is an increasing importance to help create an inclusive workplace environment for the deaf.

The objectives of this 7-month campaign are:

  1. to heighten awareness among employers of the potential of deaf community as ABLE employees,
  2. to change employers’ perceptions towards hiring the deaf,
  3. to encourage more local employers to hire the deaf.

The key message here is; to break employment barriers for deaf Singaporeans – they can be valuable employees and excellent contributors to our workorce.

The deaf are just like you and me.

By supporting and dispensing advice to this project, I am indirectly helping similar Singaporeans like myself. Therefore, I stepped forward to be their mentor, offering help.

 

Presently the team is carrying out a survey to better understand the current situation.

I will be very grateful if you could help us to spread word about this online survey to people in your network connections, of whom you know who are managers, particularly Human Resource personnel, or anyone involved in the hiring procedures.

Responses are kept 100% confidential, and the information collated will be very helpful to this campaign.

Here is the Breaking the Sound Barrier – Online Survey

I hope you can assist us, in helping this group of Singaporeans, building a more inclusive Singapore.

Thank you very much! 🙂

breaking-the-sound-barrier


Leave a comment

Young ChangeMakers

young changemakers

Young ChangeMakers (YCM) is a flagship youth programme initiated by National Youth Council, Singapore in 2005. I am honoured to be invited onboard to be among the 39 youth panellists in the augural pioneer batch of YCM Youth Panel. Despite the fact that I am hearing-impaired. Served a maximum period of 2 terms. 1 term = 1 year. I was on the Youth Panel till 2007.

I am grateful to former YCM Secretariat staff, June Loh for believing in me, inviting me onboard. She kept reassuring me that things will turn out fine, and help is always available to me.

Our then YCM co-chairperson was Dr Benedict Tan Chi Loong, who was once a former Singapore national team sailor.

Coming from different backgrounds and having different expertise, we youth panellists review community projects done by fellow youths to determine who are the ones worthy to be given monetary funding. We also offer mentorship to successful grant applicants as well. We did it in a firm friendly yet professional manner.

This is where I get to open my eyes, seeing a great variety of interesting project ideas done by schooling youths as well as young working adults. Gained valuable experience and strengthened my leadership skills, which I could apply in my youth voluntary involvement with the People’s Association Youth Movement (PAYM).

As pioneers, we were given the opportunity to define and refine YCM grant application criterias through friendly, open, non-judgemental discussions. I fought alongside with a fellow YCM youth panellist, Alex Tan, to allow PAYM YECs to be able to apply for YCM as an additional grant funding source for various community projects.

My sweetest memory was mentoring my first YCM project mentee who happened to be from my alma mater Yishun Town Secondary School! Along the way, I also gained a better understanding of what youth mentorship is all about.

I got to befriend a great bunch of friends in the Youth Panel. Although we may no longer be in YCM, many of us moved on continue to be a young changemaker in different areas today, championing different social causes or beliefs. Including myself. 🙂

YCM just did a recruitment exercise for a new batch of youth panellists for 2014, which has just ended on 16 February. It has also revamped its logo image as well. Which you just saw in the above photo.

Do check out our new YCM Facebook Page at www.facebook.com/ycm.sg


Leave a comment

亚太经合峰会 “未来之声” APEC Voices Of The Future 2009

APEC VOF这次前来新加坡参与亚太经合峰会(APEC)的各国领袖在与会期间,除了有机会互相交流之外,也可能会面对一些尖锐的提问。不过发问的可不一定是媒体记者哦,也几有可能是来自亚太区域的120名年轻代表。

过去几个月,40名年龄介于18-25岁的本地青年都在忙着为他们毕生难得的机会做好准备。他们都被挑选参加年度的亚太经合峰会未来之声(Voices of the Future)项目。这个活动的目的是要让年轻一代更深入了解亚太经合组织。这些青年将有机会访问与会领导人,而他们当中有的人已经设定好问题了。

参与者,黄雪娜受访时说:“我自己主要的一个目的,就是想了解这次的金融海啸里面,不同的国家和不同的公司对于人事方面的控制,裁员或者是重新栽培员工、员工培训或者是安抚员工本身现在的士气方面有做出哪一些行动。”

除了40名新加坡代表,参与未来之声计划项目也将集合其他亚太国家的另外80名年轻代表。

APEC Voices of the Future (VOF) 2009 is to be held from 9 to 15 November 2009 in Singapore, in conjunction with the APEC 2009 summit meetings hosted by Singapore this year.

Due to a holiday trip to Bangkok next week, I am unable to commit as one of the liaison officers for this APEC event.

It is an annual youth event meant for youth leaders or representatives in the 21 APEC economies. VOF aims to provide a platform for them to engage government and business leaders on issues relevant to APEC.

VOF 2009 brings together 120 youth delegates (out of which 40 are from Singapore), aged 18 to 25 years old from APEC economies to deliberate on and explore issues relevant to youths, with regards to the theme of APEC 2009, “Sustaining Growth, Connecting the Region”.

This theme reflects the continuing efforts of APEC to facilitate trade and investment in the Asia-Pacific region, efforts which have gained even greater importance in the face of a challenging global economic environment.

VOF 2009 is organised by the National Youth Council (NYC) in cooperation with the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports (MCYS) and the National Youth Achievement Award (NYAA) Council.

For further information on “Voices of the Future”, you can check out -> http://apecvof09.org/