Employment and Employability: The Experiences and Perceptions of Deaf Graduates

Barnes, Lynne orcid iconORCID: 0000-0003-4504-7139 (2017) Employment and Employability: The Experiences and Perceptions of Deaf Graduates. Doctoral thesis, University of Central Lancashire.

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Research illustrates that deaf and hard of hearing people generally experience more unemployment, are often underemployed and have lower incomes than the hearing population (MacLeod-Gallinger, 1992; RNID, 2006; The Papworth Trust, 2014). However, whilst there are increasing numbers of deaf students entering Higher Education (HESA 2014/15, 2013/14), there is a dearth of literature regarding the employability experiences of deaf graduates. This thesis presents an exploration of deaf graduate employability within the context of successive government policies designed to encourage HEIs to enhance the employability skills of their graduates.

This qualitative research study focusses on the lived experiences of eight deaf graduates whilst at university, and their subsequent search for employment upon graduation. Semi-structured interviews, followed by a thematic analysis of the data, were employed to explore the graduates’ employability journeys. The key themes that emerged from the data included accessibility to the wider university curriculum, acquisition of employability skills, additional challenges which deaf graduates face when seeking employment, social networking and the significance of employment within the deaf community.

This thesis provides some insight into the little-researched areas of the deaf undergraduate experience and deaf graduate employment. It uncovers some of the inherent challenges of being deaf and seeking work, including the ‘interpreted interview’ and disclosure. It highlights gaps in the provision of support for both deaf students whilst at university and deaf graduates upon graduation, and it seeks to understand the prevalence of employment outcomes within the deaf community. Finally, this study begins a discourse on how support for deaf students and graduates must be enhanced if they are to compete with non-deaf job-seekers in entering the workplace.

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