Congratulations to Adrian & Marcus for launching this initiative, SINGAPORE PROFESSIONALS WITH DISABILITIES (SGPWD, in a short form) yesterday at the LinkedIn office.
These two photos are obtained from the group whatsapp for you to get better impressions about this network.
Let me share my experiences about the networking events that I had attended before, as a Deaf person. I attended these events because of my business, ExtraOrdinary Horizons. From there, I learnt many things, such as event collaborations.
If you are aspiring for a new career, or a change of jobs, this SGPWD platform is good for you to learn and share with one another. With the LinkedIn platform, you can demonstrate your skillset, as well as your previous working experiences. Also, you can get advices from experienced professionals who are willing to consult you as in #plusonepledge to make the world a better place for everyone to work more healthy and happier. In the other round, you can share your challenges and resolutions with recruiters and allies.
Two Sign Language interpreters and one notetaker were engaged for d/Deaf to be part of the launch. However, I feel that the launch was not inclusive enough as there were different types of d/Deaf people. The d/Deaf people have their different capabilities. Now, I look at Deaf signers and I am one of them who rely on interpreters heavily. I am different from them, and I could speak well. But I could not catch any conversation.
UPDATED: Just now, I was asked by Marcus on LinkedIn to share my networking experience at the launch yesterday. With the interpreter in present, I managed to achieve my goals, which were to obtain the complimentary corporate photo for my current job search, to give support to Marcus & Adrian, and to learn new things from people. I was somehow satisfied.
I met four new people at the two different times, with the help of the interpreter, after the panel discussion. I happened to pop by when two persons from the T-Systems approached the deaf lady, and the interpreter was there. They shared their company profile with us, and they hoped to obtain information on how they could help d/Deaf in communication issues. Then, we had our chit-chat, and we exchanged our contact details. Next, I asked the interpreter to follow me, and to “eavesdrop” any group conversation. But she had to abide by the professional code of ethics, and I respected her. I caught the eyes of a lady, and she was one of the LinkedIn Enabled volunteer-facilitator. Both of us discussed on improving networking for the group of d/Deaf participants. Another volunteer-facilitator joined us. Then, we added one another on LinkedIn, thanks to the mobile technology. When I walked around, I was unable to join any group conversation (without having the interpreter around with me). I merely said hello to my friends whom I am familiar with.
Today, I had my online chat with Jade, who was the moderator of the panel discussion. This happened, all thanks to the SGPWD network launch event. I made efforts to find out from my peers. True enough about us that we are deaf, and we are different from other people with disabilities, we fall behind a lot as there seems to be no other way for us to communicate with recruiters and allies who are not deaf. Again, we do not know what they are actually looking for. If we are on our own (when the interpreters are not available, or there might be limited number of interpreters), how shall we network with them?
I had made several suggestions to Jade about improving networking among Deaf signers. It will be good to have recruiters and allies to make their brief introduction so that we will be able to know them and make our better approaches. Speed-networking can be another good alternative, however we still need to consider other factors how to include Deaf signers in group conversations.
How to network effectively as being the Deaf person when you have no interpreter with you?
- Leverage social media, such as LinkedIn (QR Code).
- Exchange name cards (if you have).
- Use mobile applications, such as Microsoft Translator, Google Live Transcribe, to listen; do not let yourself do all the talking. Google Live Transcribe is the best recommendation.
- Meet new people through other people (and social media channels).
- Present your story, mostly success stories that have your workable solutions that you have thought of.
- Find a reason to follow up, by messaging on social media, and looking for possible collaborations.
- Always remember to say Thank You.
If you wish to meet a Deaf signer, you should have papers so that you can communicate with him/her through writing. Otherwise, mobile applications could be good alternatives. You need to have more patience when communicating with them. Speak your intentions clearly to them after you have made your introduction. Please bear in your mind that the Deaf signers are proficient in their first language, which is Singapore Sign Language. We do our best to express ourselves in English Language that is internationally spoken by the mainstreamed people. So, use simple English. If you do not understand them clearly, you can ask them to repeat. In any worst case, adjust your communication skills with your creativity. Or get the interpreter when they are available (in sight).
Ok, I now look forward to the next networking session by SGPWD.
DISCLAIMER: The author of the above article is the director and founder of ExtraOrdinary Horizons. All opinions expressed herein are thus the personal views of contributing individual authors. They are not indicative of any endorsement, political or otherwise, or lack thereof, either on the part of the organisation.